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The world needs Gates Foundation
Divorce is the last thing to discuss during the Covid pandemic. But it becomes news if that divorce is concerned with not only one of the richest...
Divorce is the last thing to discuss during the Covid pandemic. But it becomes news if that divorce is concerned with not only one of the richest persons of the world but the biggest philanthropists of our era- Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.
After 27 years of marriage, the couple has announced their divorce, saying "we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple. After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," the pair tweeted.
What is at stake due to the separation of the power couple is not only a huge amount of personal wealth but also the fate of their charitable organisation-Gates Foundation. According to Forbes, Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $124 billion.
It is to be seen how this wealth is going to be distributed. Interestingly, Bill Gates amassed such net worth from technology giant Microsoft, which he has founded. But, currently, shares of the software-maker may not be more than 20 per cent of his assets.
Over the years, Bill Gates has shifted much of his stake into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates's biggest asset is Cascade Investment, a holding company he created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends. The entity has bought stakes in real estate, energy, and hospitality as well as stakes in dozens of public companies.
It has to be seen how this wealth is distributed between the couple. However, what will be important for the world to understand the changes that may come to the operations of Gates Foundation post this separation.
The couple established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 that primarily focuses on public health, education, and climate change. In 2019, the foundation had net assets of more than $43 billion.
Between 1994 and 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates pumped more than $36 billion into the foundation. Amid the pandemic, Gates Foundation has also committed billions of dollars towards public health. Its grants included around $1.75 billion to vaccine initiatives and research for the Covid-19.
After the divorce, it is to be seen how the operating structure of the Gates Foundation change. The foundation, however, has come up with a statement assuring continuity and stability. In a statement, a spokesperson of the foundation said the couple will remain the co-chairs and trustees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Apart from the overall direction of Gates Foundation, the Gates along with ace investor Warren Buffett - are behind the 'Giving Pledge' movement, which calls on billionaires to commit majority of their wealth to good causes.
It is to be seen how the movement gets shape in the coming days. This is the second high- profile divorce among the world's richest people in recent years. In 2019, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced his separation from his wife MacKenzie Scott.
While divorce is purely a personal affair, which should be treated with dignity, such high-profile separations have impacted the functioning of many institutions. Therefore, the world is likely to take interest in this event for quite some time.