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Gates Foundation to Sell Over Half Its Berkshire Hathaway Shares

Bill Gates, left, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett pose for a picture after a press conference Monday, June 26, 2006 in New York.  Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, recently announced his intention of giving 10 million shares of his company to charitable organizations, the majority going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig
Bill Gates, left, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett pose for a picture after a press conference Monday, June 26, 2006 in New York. Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, recently announced his intention of giving 10 million shares of his company to charitable organizations, the majority going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The primary beneficiary of Warren Buffett's plan to give away almost all of the money that's made him the wealthiest person in the worldwill sell most of the Berkshire Hathaway shares it's already received from Buffett.

In a filing with the SEC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust reveals it has adopted a written sales plan to sell 550,000 of the 975,000 Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares it now owns.

At today's closing price of just under $4348, those 550,000 shares are worth almost $2.4 billion and the total holdings are worth over $4.2 billion.

The sales are planned for a three-year period starting April 1 this year. The filing also says the sales plan can be canceled at any time.

Why? "To facilitate the Trust’s compliance with federal excise tax rules limiting excess business holdings by private foundations."

The Gates Foundation, will be getting more shares, however, as Buffett continues his annual gifts. The AP notes that "Buffett is expected to give 451,250 Class B shares to the foundation this summer as part of his overall pledge to donate 10 million shares."

Current Berkshire Class A price:

Current Berkshire Class B price:

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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