Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has emerged as the firm’s biggest single shareholder after Bill Gates sold 4.6 million shares of the software giant, lowering his holdings to 330.1 million shares in the company, an SEC filing release Friday indicates.
The 58-year-old Ballmer, who retired after more than three decades at the Redmond, Wa.- based company, now owns 333.2 million MSFT shares, 3.1 million more than Gates. Ballmer has raked in about $3.4 billion selling shares since the company’s March 13, 1986 initial public offering, and has a net worth of almost $19 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“At his 10-year pace of selling stock, Gates will hand over the shareholding crown to Ballmer before mid-2014. Gates will have exhausted his holdings by September 2018 unless he stops or slows his selling.”
In the last 20 quarters, Gates has sold more than 402 million MSFT shares for roughly $11.5 billion.
Ballmer, who stepped down as Microsoft CEO in February, joined the company as employee No. 30 in 1980. He rose to the rank of president and then took over for Gates — who is credited with building the company into the world’s leading software maker — as CEO in 2000.
Shares of Microsoft closed at $39.69 on Friday.