Allen cashing in $2 billion in Microsoft stock

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen planned to sell 35 million shares of the company last month, according to federal documents released this week.

That has people wondering what he’s going to do with the $2.1 billion he would have made from the sales.

It’s not unusual for Allen to sell shares of Microsoft. For example, he sold 2.9 million shares in September and 13 million in August. What is unusual is the number of shares he indicated he would sell in October.

Federal law requires company officers and board members to file forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission before and after such stock sales. The SEC released forms this week that show Allen planned to sell the stock in October, but forms saying whether the sales were actually completed will not be released until later this month.

Allen’s spokeswoman, Susan Pierson Brown, said today she did not know whether the sales had been completed.

However, in a prepared statement, she said, “Given the current volatility in the equity markets, and Microsoft’s recent stock rebound, we felt it prudent to sell a larger-than-usual stake this quarter and increase our cash position.”

She declined to say what the cash might be used for.

Allen has frequently sold Microsoft shares in the past, both to diversify his holdings and to fund his wide array of interests. That’s often had a direct effect on the Pacific Northwest, where Allen owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, holds a large chunk of downtown Seattle real estate, and is helping build a new football stadium on the site of the old Kingdome.

Allen also built the Experience Music Project in Seattle and is redeveloping the city’s Union Station, has stakes in dozens of high-tech companies, and is a heavy investor in cable companies.

Allen’s fortune is hard to pin down because the value of tech stocks has fluctuated so much this year. But according to the most recent listing in Forbes Magazine, he’s the world’s third-richest man, worth $28 billion.

Only Microsoft’s other co-founder, Bill Gates, and Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison are worth more.

Allen has had little to do with the operations of Microsoft since its founding, and has said he will resign as a company director on Nov. 9, the day of its annual shareholders’ meeting.

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