In a joint statement released on Bills Gates’ Twitter handle, the couple announced to the world, their plans to get a divorce after 27 years of marriage. Bill Gates, the Microsoft Co-Founder is the fourth richest man in the world with a net worth of $146bn.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also the largest and the most influential philanthropic entity in the world today. The announcement has shaken up the world of finance and humanitarian aid raising questions on the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Financially, the divorce will affect two major areas:
1. The Bill and Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation
2. The personal wealth of Bill Gates
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest philanthropic effort in the world according to Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University. The Foundation has given out close to $50bn in Humanitarian aid according to Bloomberg.
An expert speaking to Bloomberg news pointed out that the divorce announcement stated clearly that both Bill and Melinda will remain as Co-Chairs at the Foundation, so technically, the divorce will have no effect on the Foundation.
The only area of concern here is how long this could last given the strained relationship between the two.
Bill Gates’ wealth
Bill Gates, at the time of writing this article, is worth $146bn according to Bloomberg and the divorce news has raised questions on how his fortune would be split.
The couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement and over the years, a huge percentage of Bill’s wealth has gone into the BMG Foundation. According to Bloomberg, Bill’s Microsoft fortune now makes up a paltry 20% of his net worth.
About the division of assets, an expert Janet George who is a family lawyer in Washington with the firm McKinley Irvin explained that the popular 50 -50 split is not mandatory according to Washington laws. The courts can award more or less depending on what is just and equitable.
Secondly, she pointed out that even when the split occurs the public will likely not be aware of the details involved as such high profile divorce cases are often shrouded in private contracts.
What you should know
The Bill and Melinda Gates divorce has been likened to the Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott divorce due to the enormous amount of wealth and assets involved. Experts have stated that the Bezos divorce split was a lot easier because Jeff’s wealth is largely concentrated in his Amazon stock unlike Bill’s.
Mackenzie Scott got a whooping $36bn worth of Amazon shares from the divorce and she immediately became one of the richest women in the world.
The official divorce letter filed by the couple and obtained by the daily mail described the marriage as irretrievably broken.