Steve Ballmer sells $1.3bn of Microsoft shares

CEO says sale is about diversity of investment
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CEO says sale is about diversity of investment

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has sold $1.3 billion of shares in the firm, a move he says should not be construed as a lack of faith in the software giant.

According to Reuters, the sale cuts Ballmer’s stake in Microsoft by around 12 per cent, and the CEO says he intends to sell further shares by the end of the year.

Ballmer claims the move, which is his first sale of Microsoft stock in seven years, is about diversifying his investments and planning for taxes.

"Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion," Ballmer said in a statement. "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."

The CEO hopes to sell up to 75 million shares by the end of 2010, which would cut his stake by 18 per cent.

Ballmer holds about 359 million shares in Microsoft (4.2 per cent of the firm, worth $9.6 billion), making him the second largest shareholder after chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, according to Reuters.

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