Microsoft CEO Ballmer sells $1.34 billion in Microsoft stock

Microsoft has posted the following press release. Here it is, verbatim:

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer confirmed Friday that he is selling some of his holdings of Microsoft stock to gain financial diversification and to assist in tax planning before the end of the calendar year. He plans to sell up to 75 million shares by year-end. Before taking into account recent sales, according to the latest Microsoft proxy report, Ballmer held approximately 408 million shares.

“Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion,” Ballmer said. “I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people’s lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success.”

Source: Microsoft

MacDailyNews Take: Blah, blah, blah. wink

As we wrote last Saturday: “Sadly, over what will certainly be a major hit to the humor quotient, we don’t believe that even Microsoft’s investors are in deep enough comas to allow this buffoon to survive as CEO after Windows Phone ’07 fails to set the world on fire in 2011. To have a realistic shot at catching a whiff of Apple’s fumes, Microsoft needed Windows Phone ’15 in 2011, not Windows Phone ’07. They’re already eight years behind. Ballmer chances of remaining CEO after this plays out are not good.”

45 Comments

  1. He had better sell while they are worth something. AAPL up 4500% since 2003. MSFT up .75% in the last 5 years. That’s 3/4 of one percent! I hope Ballmer never leaves. If he does my AAPL may take a hit.

  2. Talk about instilling confidence in your shareholders…correction: I should say even less shareholder confidence than normal. It is truly an amazing world that somebody like Ballmer could be a multi-billionaire. He’s the poster child for dumb luck, being in the right place at the right time.

  3. @ Richie: Yes, the tax rates on income in excess of $250,000 will go up next year. Meaning that by selling now Ballmer will be saving 8½% of his potential tax burden. Meaning that if all $2 billion (MDN the stock price is $27, not $17, bad math), assuming he could get that much after the stock price tanks when this news reaches the market Monday, were treated as income he would save $61 million in federal tax burden (and $61 million is an outside worst case).

    However, let’s look at the deeper message, by selling ⅙ of his shares what Ballmer is saying to world is: “I know Windows Phone 7 is going to be a epic failure and that the stock price is going fall off a cliff after I lay this big goose egg.”

    Think about it, if Windows Phone 7 were actually a success (okay y’all can stop laughing now) and thus Microsoft’s stock price rose even a dollar per share in the next year (close to what Apple’s stock appreciates each week) then Ballmer’s holdings would be worth an additional $400 million, an amount that dwarfs his potential tax liability increase from 2009 to 2010 (and would cover his tax liability if he sold all of his shares).

  4. Smartest thing Ballmer has ever done. In fact, I hear he’s diversifying by investing his ill-gotten gains in Apple shares. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  5. It would take more than a different CEO to fix the windows debacle. Their problem is the market has inoculated themselves against reverse engineering. If Microsoft has nothing to steal they basically have no product. What do you expect, competent innovation? I think not.

  6. Hey, if I were in his shoes, I’d sure as hell want to get my chips off the table. Most of this guy’s net worth is tied up in shares of a company whose stock has declined by about half since the current CEO got the big chair to throw around.

    -jcr

  7. Even with the election results, tax rates for him will be compromised thanks to weak spined Republicans like McCain and Lindsay Graham, in that, for people who make too much money according to some other people, it would be best to claim this year and not have to give it to the likes of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Barney Frank, John Kerry, et al!

    It’s what I’d do if circumstances were similar!

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