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Melinda French Gates Gets Billions in Shares From Cascade

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 5/6/2021 Sophie Alexander and Tom Maloney
Melinda Gates looking at the camera: G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting © Bloomberg G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- Cascade Investment, the holding company created by Bill Gates, transferred stock in two of Mexico’s largest companies to Melinda French Gates, bringing the total amount she’s received in the past few days to more than $2 billion.

Cascade moved stock worth more than $500 million in Coca-Cola Femsa and Grupo Televisa to her control, according to regulatory filings dated May 3, the same day the Gateses announced they were ending their 27-year marriage. Cascade shifted about $1.8 billion of shares in Canadian National Railway Co. and AutoNation Inc. this week to French Gates, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Read more: Bill and Melinda Gates start dividing $145 billion

Their separation is expected to involve a wealth transfer on a scale that’s only been seen in a few other divorces, though few details have yet emerged. It could also have ramifications for one of the most important philanthropic organizations on the planet. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away more than $50 billion to support health care, education, gender equality and efforts to combat climate change.

Cascade transferred a stake worth about $120 million in Coca-Cola Femsa and a holding valued at about $386 million in Grupo Televisa to French Gates, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the filings.

Gates, the 65-year-old co-founder of Microsoft Corp., is worth $144.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. French Gates, 56, is a former Microsoft manager who’s gained international prominence co-running the foundation, and more recently for starting Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company to advance “social progress” in the U.S.

Video: Melinda Gates takes on ‘crisis in caregiving’ (ABC News)


Bill Gates’s biggest asset is Cascade Investment, which he created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends. Cascade oversees a vast portfolio comprising real estate, energy and hospitality as well as stakes in dozens of public companies.

The biggest public position is agricultural-machinery maker Deere & Co., with Cascade holding more than 10% of the stock valued at about $12 billion, followed by an $11.8 billion stake in waste-collection company Republic Services Inc., Bloomberg data show. That’s followed by Canadian National and Ecolab Inc.

Most of the portfolio, overseen by money manager Michael Larson, is comprised of North American companies, but it also owns stock in Diageo Plc, the world’s largest distiller, and London-based private-jet services firm Signature Aviation Plc.

The divorce comes two years after the 2019 separation announcement of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, another billionaire tech couple in Washington State. That split led to a division in the couple’s 16% stake in Inc., with Bezos getting 75% of the holding and Scott 25%.

The Gateses are also among the largest landowners in America and have homes including their 66,000 square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington.

(Updates with details of transfers from second paragraph)

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