VARIOUS: Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett unite on 60 billion U.S. dollar foundation
- Title: VARIOUS: Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett unite on 60 billion U.S. dollar foundation
- Date: 27th June 2006
- Summary: (AM) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (JUNE 26, 2006) (REUTERS) BILL GATES, MELINDA GATES AND WARREN BUFFETT AT A NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVA72MOJMWJ1H5Q4CI6DG4Z6MXXZ
- Duration: 00:00:06
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- Topics: Economic News,Social Services / Welfare
- Story Text: Warren Buffett signed over much of his 44 billion U.S. dollar fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday (June 26), uniting the world's two richest people in a bid to fight disease, reduce poverty and improve education.
The roughly 30.7 billion U.S. dollar donation doubles the Gates Foundation's size to 60 billion, five times larger than any other U.S. charitable group and bigger than the gross domestic product of Kuwait.
Bill Gates, the world's richest person, co-founded and remains chairman of software company Microsoft Corp.
His friend and bridge partner, 75-year-old Buffett, became known as the Sage of Omaha as he built the world's second biggest personal fortune running Berkshire Hathaway Inc., an insurance and investment company.
"I've watched the Gates Foundation for a number of years and I think in their field I would be amazed if results diminished proportion to capital, I wouldn't be surprised, available funds, I wouldn't be surprised if actually if they became more efficient, more effective per dollar spent, in doubling the funds," Buffett said at a signing ceremony with the Gateses at the New York Public Library.
50-year-old Gates this month said he plans to step down in July 2008 from his day-to-day Microsoft role to focus on his foundation, one of the goals of which is to improve access to technology in U.S. public libraries. It also focuses on fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
"We're going to deepen, accelerate what we do around those areas. We'll pick some things that also touch on the same things of dealing with poverty or dealing with opportunity for everyone and so it's a big challenge for us to make to sure that this money gets used in the right way but one that we're thrilled about and thrilled that we'll have Warren as our third trustee," Gates said.
Buffett pledged 10 million Berkshire Class B shares to the Gates Foundation. He also pledged 2.05 million Class B shares to foundations in the name of his late wife, Susan, who died in 2004, and for his three children, Susie, Howard and Peter.
The total donations of about 37.1 billion U.S. dollars amount to 85 percent of Buffett's net worth and constitute the largest single act of U.S. charitable giving ever.
When a reporter asked about the large amount of money that the Gates Foundation would be receiving, Melinda Gates replied that the money was not coming to them, but entrusted to them to give back to society.
"That is what it represents in giving it to the foundation and Bill and I really live our lives with the believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. And as I said at the beginning, when you think about giving your own money away it feels like quite an incredible responsibility but when you start to look at the body of somebody else's life's work, and you say, my gosh, this is what Warren's done with his life, this is what Bill and I have done with our lives, that coming together, it's an enormous responsibility but it's also something that we hope that we can live up to," she said.
Buffett made the donations fewer than four months after he said Berkshire's board had identified a successor for him.
Buffett's gift to that foundation will be in stages and conditioned on money being distributed the year it is donated.
The foundation gave away 1.36 billion U.S. dollars in 2005, so Buffett's first gift of 1.5 billion in July, may double its spending.
Time magazine last year named the Gateses and Irish singer Bono of the band U2 its "Persons of the Year" for 2005, citing their charitable and philanthropic pursuits.
Berkshire shares fell as much as 2.9 percent on Monday as investors looked toward Buffett's eventual retirement and the possible sale by the foundations of Berkshire stock to fund giving.
Berkshire owns large stakes in such blue-chip companies as American Express Co. and Coca-Cola Co and owns some 50 businesses, including Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom underwear and Geico auto insurance.
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