Buffett to gift shares worth $5.4b to five charities
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will donate shares in Berkshire Hathaway worth US$3.6 billion (NZ$5.4b) to five charities as part of a pledge to give away almost all of his wealth before he dies.
He will convert 11,250 of his class A shares into 16.8m class B shares that will be handed to five organisations – including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the Sherwood Foundation. In a 2006 letter, the revered investor promised to gradually give away all of his Berkshire holding to philanthropic foundations during his lifetime or at death, and has since donated about US$34b.
Buffett and Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, set up the Giving Pledge, which encourages the super-rich to give more than half their wealth to philanthropic causes. MacKenzie Bezos, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has vowed to donate at least half her US$38b divorce settlement to the Giving Pledge.
Buffett has never sold any shares in Berkshire, the giant American conglomerate, but has donated about 45 per cent of his 2006 holdings to five charities.
He has said he intends to give his entire stake in Berkshire to philanthropy through annual gifts that will be completed a decade after his estate is settled.
Buffett, 88, is the world’s third-richest man, according to the 2019 Forbes rich list, with an estimated net worth of $82.5b. In May, Berkshire Hathaway, which manages assets equivalent to the size of the Swiss economy, revealed profits for the first quarter of US$21.7b, up significantly from the US$1b loss reported a year ago.
Jim Walton, the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, also pledged this week to donate shares worth about US$1.2b.
More than 11 million shares were donated to an undisclosed recipient just a day after his elder brother Rob donated 135,000 shares worth US$15m. Family members have regularly donated to the Walton Family Foundation, whose causes include education and the environment.