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Will Melinda Gates donate a portion of the billions her soon-to-be ex just transferred to her? The answer remains to be seen. But if her history in philanthropy gives us any clue the answer may very well be “yes.”
Earlier in the week, Bill Gates transferred nearly $2.4 million dollars in stocks into Melinda’s name through his company Cascade Investment. This comes after the couple announced on Twitter that they will be getting a divorce.
She received 2.94 million shares of AutoNation, 14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railroad Co., 25.8 million shares of Coca-Cola Femsa which is based in Mexico and about 155.4 million shares of Grupo Televisa SA which is a Mexican based broadcaster. She becomes one of the largest shareholders of both Mexican based companies.
The stock transfer moved Melinda Gates onto the prized Forbes billionaire list. If the couple’s assets are split 50/50, then Melinda will become the second richest woman in the world (after Françoise Bettencourt Meyers the founder of L’Oreal). The Gates’ combined wealth is currently valued at $146 billion dollars.
After Wednesday’s market close, Melinda Gates’ stake in Coca-Cola Femsa was worth about $121 million and her stake in Grupo Televisa was worth $386 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While they have not officially divorced, according to USA Today, “the couple’s divorce filings show they asked a judge in Washington state to divide their assets based on the terms of a separation contract, usually issued when spouses are living apart but have not yet divorced.” They are using a separation contract because there is no pre-nup listed in their file. The couple met in 1994 and have been married for 27 years.
It was Melinda who filed for the divorce, saying that their marriage was “irretrievably broken.” The couple will continue to work together on The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity that they founded to help fight poverty and inequality across the world. Since the nonprofit’s creation it has spent more than $53 billion towards the cause.
The foundation made an official statement after the divorce announcement saying that “they will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”
Since the divorce was filed in Washington State, it is subject to the state’s community property laws. These laws state that any property bought during the marriage belongs to both spouses and needs to be separated equally. For Bill and Melinda, that means that they must split up their 242,000 acres of farmland (valued at $700M and their 66,000 sq. ft. home called Xanadu 2.0. The house is valued at $130 million and according to The Guardian it has no less than six kitchens and a garage that can hold 23 cars.
After giving stocks to his wife, Bill’s net worth dropped from $130.4 billion to $128.1 billion.