Ballmer share sell-off sparks exit rumours

Steve Ballmer has sold $1.3 billion worth of his shares in Microsoft, prompting rumours that he may be preparing to leave the company.

Ballmer share sell-off sparks exit rumours

The Microsoft CEO has also revealed he plans to sell up to 75 million more of his shares before the end of the year.

Ballmer is Microsoft’s second largest shareholder, behind company founder Bill Gates. Following his sell-off, Ballmer still owns 359 million shares in the company, a 4.2% stake that’s worth around $9.5 billion. Gates owns 621 million shares, although he regularly sells of chunks of shares to pay for his philanthropy efforts.

I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success

Ballmer’s sell-off follows much recent speculation about his future at the company. The Microsoft board paid Ballmer only half his maximum bonus this year, citing failures with Microsoft’s mobile business.

The Microsoft boss has also had to contend with a string of high-profile executive departures in recent months, not least the retirement of chief software architect, Ray Ozzie.

Microsoft’s share price has largely flat-lined over the past five years, while rivals such as Google and Apple have witnessed explosive growth, culminating in Apple overtaking Microsoft as the world’s most valuable tech company.

However, Ballmer insists he’s going nowhere and that the share sell-off was motivated by a desire to diversify his investments. “Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion,” Ballmer said in a statement.

“I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people’s lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success.”

To find out why Jon Honeyball thinks it’s time for Ballmer to go, read this month’s PC Pro, on sale from Thursday.

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