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Why Microsoft founder Bill Gates owns a $2.7 billion stake in Apple

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Why Bill Gates owns a $2.7 billion stake in Apple. Source: Getty
Why Bill Gates owns a $2.7 billion stake in Apple. Source: Getty

The world’s third-richest man, Bill Gates, made his fortune through Microsoft, but interestingly, he’s invested about 2 per cent of his wealth into rival company Apple.

Bill Gates’ net worth is US$110 billion (AU$163 billion), and it turns out the Microsoft founder indirectly owns US$1.8 billion (AU$2.7 billion) worth of Apple shares.

How?

When Gates stepped down as chief executive of Microsoft in early 2000, he and his wife Melinda decided they would embark on philanthropic pursuits, and created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to do so.

To support the foundation’s work, he and his wife created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust – a fund that has a staggering investment in Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire Hathaway was founded and led by Warren Buffett, who is coincidentally, Gates’ very good friend.

And, as of November 2019, Buffett’s company owns just under 250 million Apple shares - or US$79 billion worth.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust owns around 55 million shares in Berkshire Hathaway - or 2.25 per cent of the total company.

If 2.25 per cent of the US$79 billion in Apple shares owned by Berkshire Hathaway are owned by Bill and Melinda Gates, that equates to around US$1.8 billion.

Why is Bill Gates investing in his life-long competitor?

In 2018, Gates told CNBC that Apple was an “amazing company”, and backed Buffett’s decision at the time to up his take in the tech giant.

“I think Warren has applied great thinking there,” he said. “It’s not like a tech speculative company where it’s still losing money or anything.”

Last year, Gates also revealed his biggest career regret was not turning Microsoft into what Android became: a real alternative to Apple.

Gates said Android’s standing as the non-Apple phone platform was a “natural thing” for Microsoft to become, and not stepping up to the plate was Microsoft’s downfall.

“It’s the biggest mistake I made in terms of something that was clearly within our skillset. We were clearly the company that should have achieved that — and we didn't,” he said.

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