Why did Warren Buffett resign?
Last March, he stepped down from his role on Microsoft's board of directors to focus solely on his work with the foundation. Buffett is the world's eighth-richest person, with a net worth of $105 billion, according to Bloomberg. CBS NewsWarren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation, donates $4.1 billion
Who is Warren Buffett?
Warren Edward Buffett (/ˈbʌfɪt/ BUFF-itt; born August 30, 1930) is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. ... Buffett has been the chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway since 1970. wikipedia.orgWarren Buffett
24 June, 2021 - 11:12am
Updated 8:20 AM ET, Wed June 23, 2021
Buffett has now given half of his Berkshire shares to charity, announces resignation from Gates Foundation
24 June, 2021 - 11:12am
"Today is a milestone for me. In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares – more than 99% of my net worth – to philanthropy. With today’s $4.1 billion distribution, I’m halfway there," Buffett wrote in a letter on Wednesday.
According to Buffett, when he made his commitment in 2006 he held 478,998 A-shares in Berkshire stock. As of today, he owns 238,624 shares, worth just north of $100 billion, which are also "destined for philanthropy."
In the letter, Buffett also announced his resignation as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG), one of the recipients of his shares.
"I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s. The CEO of BMG is Mark Suzman, an outstanding recent selection who has my full support. My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals," Buffett added.
In a statement on Wednesday, the foundation's CEO Mark Suzman wrote "I know Warren’s departure raises questions about the foundation’s governance. As I have mentioned previously, I have been actively discussing with him, Bill, and Melinda approaches to strengthen our governance to provide long-term stability and sustainability for the foundation’s governance and decision-making in light of the recent announcement of Bill and Melinda’s divorce. I plan to share additional information in July."
In March 2020, Gates stepped down from Berkshire Hathaway's board as well as Microsoft's board "to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change," the 65-year-old billionaire wrote in a LinkedIn post at the time. Gates, who has been friends with Buffett since 1991, joined Berkshire Hathaway's board in December 2004.
In 2010, Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates established The Giving Pledge as an “open invitation” to billionaires “to publicly commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy,” and to “set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy.”
Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce last month after 27 years of marriage but said they'd continue their philanthropic work together through the foundation.
Elsewhere in the letter, Buffett proceeded to share some areas "for further thought" for philanthropists, the government, and the public.
Buffett, who has long argued that excessive wealth really has no utility, said "the easiest deed in the world is to give away money that will never be of any real use to you or your family. The giving is painless and may well lead to a better life for both you and your children."
"Over many decades I have accumulated an almost incomprehensible sum simply by doing what I love to do. I’ve made no sacrifice nor has my family. Compound interest, a long runway, wonderful associates and our incredible country have simply worked their magic. Society has a use for my money; I don’t," he wrote.
Buffett, 90, said he will "continue at my enjoyable job, doing what I like, aided by associates I like and working to deploy the savings of people who have long trusted me. I still relish being on the field and carrying the ball. But I’m clearly playing in a game that, for me, has moved past the fourth quarter into overtime."
The famed investor also touched on the issue of significant tax deductions for the uber-wealthy from charitable donations, which he noted is a benefit that is "far from automatic."
According to Buffett, the $41 billion of Berkshire shares donated so far across those five foundations has resulted in about 40 cents of tax savings per $1,000 given.
To be sure, Buffett pointed out that tax deductions matter to many, especially the wealthiest.
"It is fitting that Congress periodically revisits the tax policy for charitable contributions, particularly in respect to donors who get 'imaginative,'" he wrote.
Buffett concluded his letter striking a tone of optimism that echoes his long-held bullish stance on America and its future prospects.
"I’m optimistic. Though naysayers abound – as they have throughout my life – America’s best days most certainly lie ahead. What’s happened here since 1776 has not been a historical fluke. Philanthropy will continue to pair human talent with financial resources. So, too, will business and government. Each force has its particular strengths and weaknesses. Combined, they will make the world a better place – a much better place – for future generations," Buffett wrote.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the second-largest philanthropy in the world — is now governed by just two trustees, after Warren Buffett announced on Wednesday that he had resigned his position there. Why it matters: The two remaining trustees, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, are going through a divorce.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Where it stands: In his announcement, Buffett said that "my goals are 100% in sync with those of the found
(Reuters) -Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he is resigning as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has donated half his wealth to philanthropy since pledging 15 years ago to give away his fortune from running Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Buffett, 90, said in a Wednesday statement he has been an "inactive trustee" for years at the foundation, but fully supported Chief Executive Mark Suzman and that their goals were "100% in sync." He did not explain why he is resigning, while noting he has given up all directorships outside Berkshire, reducing his workload.
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(Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett resigned as a trustee at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the charity grapples with upheaval created by the divorce of its namesake founders, and the billionaire finds himself at the center of controversy over the ultra-wealthy and taxes.“My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation,” Buffett, 90, said Wednesday in a statement that also announced he had reached the halfway mark in giving all of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares to charity.Buffett,
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24 June, 2021 - 11:12am
Mr. Buffett, a longtime friend of Bill Gates, stepped down as a trustee of the organization just weeks after its founders announced their divorce.
Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that he had resigned as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, coming just weeks after the couple announced their divorce and raising new questions about the future of the foundation.
Mr. Buffett had been a huge contributor to the Gates Foundation, one of the foremost and richest nonprofit organizations dedicated to social causes, for more than a decade. It is one of five nonprofit organizations to which he has pledged the majority of his fortune, which Forbes estimates at $105.3 billion, and it is the only one not run by a member of the Buffett family.
All told, Mr. Buffett, 90, has given Berkshire stock worth $41 billion at the time of donation to the five foundations. In 2006, he committed to giving about $31 billion to the Gates Foundation. In the announcement on Wednesday, Mr. Buffett said he had donated an additional $4.1 billion to philanthropy, with $3.2 billion going to the Gates Foundation.
“For years I have been a trustee — an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Mr. Buffett said in a statement. “I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s.”
With 1,600 staff members directing $5 billion in annual grants to 135 countries, the Gates Foundation is a powerful institution, especially in the field of global public health. Yet the foundation has only three trustees — Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates and Melinda French Gates — and Mr. Buffett’s departure comes at an uncertain time for the foundation.
The foundation’s chief executive, Mark Suzman, acknowledged in an email to the staff that “Warren’s departure raises questions about the foundation’s governance.”
He reiterated that he had been “actively discussing with him, Bill, and Melinda approaches to strengthen our governance to provide long-term stability and sustainability for the foundation’s governance and decision-making in light of the recent announcement of Bill and Melinda’s divorce.”
There has been speculation over the past month that Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates might create a board for the foundation in light of the rupture in their relationship. Mr. Suzman said that he planned to share additional information about changes to the foundation next month. That news only added to jitters at the foundation.
“It adds a lot of uncertainty,” said a foundation staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity about internal deliberations.
Benjamin Soskis, a senior research associate for the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, which receives funding from the foundation, said, “The Gates Foundation is the most important philanthropic institution in the world, and this is another sign that there likely will be major transformations in how it’s governed.”
The foundation gives grants in areas ranging from gender equality to global development. It has funded efforts to control malaria and to eradicate polio and has spent more than $1.8 billion on its response to the pandemic, including on testing, treatment and vaccines.
Even before the divorce announcement, the death of William H. Gates Sr., Bill’s father, last year signaled a changing of the guard at the private foundation, the nation’s largest. The elder Mr. Gates was a co-chair of the foundation, along with Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates. On Wednesday, Mr. Buffett, who will turn 91 in August, said that he knew he had “moved past the fourth quarter into overtime” in life.
Mr. Suzman thanked Mr. Buffett for his philanthropy, writing in a blog post, “The impact of his prodigious generosity is hard to quantify.”
The Gateses also offered praise for Mr. Buffett. “The value of Warren’s gift goes beyond anything that can be measured,” Mr. Gates said in a statement, while Ms. French Gates thanked her fellow billionaire for his “unwavering belief that everyone deserves to live a healthy, fulfilling life.”
The foundation’s reputation for global philanthropy has been overshadowed lately by reports of Mr. Gates’s questionable conduct in work-related settings. The New York Times has reported that on at least a few occasions, Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and at the foundation, according to people with direct knowledge of his overtures.
In 2019, Microsoft’s board, on which Mr. Gates sat, opened an inquiry into one of those cases after being notified that he had “sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman said. The board hired a law firm to investigate.
That same year, Mr. Gates’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the money manager and convicted sex offender, burst into public view. The Times reported that the two had met several times — representatives for Mr. Gates have said it was only to discuss philanthropy — to the consternation of Ms. French Gates.
The following year, Mr. Gates stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway. “Warren and I were the best of friends long before I joined and will be long after,” he said at the time.
Mr. Buffett did not mention either of his fellow trustees by name in his statement on Wednesday, but offered his “full support” for Mr. Suzman.
“I think Buffett’s statement is paradoxical. On the one hand, the absence of a reference to the Gateses is pretty striking given the events of the last couple months,” Mr. Soskis said. “On the other hand, it points to the possibility of a future, healthier board where personal relationships are less salient and the perspectives people bring in as trustees and the checks that they play on each other are what’s more important.”
Mr. Buffett had recently been in the spotlight in a debate over how little income tax American billionaires — including himself — pay. Citing leaked Internal Revenue Service data, the news organization ProPublica reported that the Berkshire chief paid just $23.7 million in taxes from 2014 to 2018, a period when his wealth grew by $24 billion.
Without referring to the ProPublica article specifically, Mr. Buffett acknowledged in his statement on Wednesday that he had “relatively little” income, with his wealth flowing largely from his Berkshire holdings. He also argued that his charitable donations led to only about 40 cents in tax savings per $1,000 in donations.
A longtime advocate of tightening tax rules for the wealthy, Mr. Buffett said Wednesday that although tax deductions were important to some wealthy donors, “it is fitting that Congress periodically revisits the tax policy for charitable contributions, particularly in respect to donors who get imaginative.”
The departure of Mr. Buffett, a longtime friend and collaborator of Mr. Gates, opens the door to further questions about the state of the friendship between the two billionaires, an intergenerational odd couple who bonded over business, philanthropy and a mutual passion for the card game bridge.
Mr. Gates was a near-constant presence at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meetings since joining its board in 2004.
That friendship eventually extended to shared philanthropy.
Four years after Mr. Buffett pledged his initial billions to the Gates Foundation, Mr. Buffett and the Gateses created the Giving Pledge in 2010, a public commitment to philanthropy in which signatories promise to give away the bulk of their wealth. Taking their cues from the Gateses and Mr. Buffett, hundreds of the world’s wealthy have signed on.
24 June, 2021 - 11:12am
This year's donation marked the halfway point for the 90-year-old Oracle of Omaha, who in 2006 pledged to give away all of his Berkshire shares through annual gifts to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Sherwood Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and NoVo Foundation. Back then, Buffett owned 474,998 Berkshire A shares. Today, he said he owns 238,624 shares, worth about $100 billion.
"Today is a milestone for me," Buffett said in a statement. "In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares — more than 99% of my net worth — to philanthropy. With today's $4.1 billion distribution, I'm halfway there."
Buffett's resignation as Gates Foundation trustee comes as the charitable organization faces a tumultuous time with the divorce of its two founders.
"For years I have been a trustee — an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG). I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire's," Buffett said. "The CEO of BMG is Mark Suzman, an outstanding recent selection who has my full support. My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals."
Bill Gates, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda French Gates, announced their divorce in May. The couple along with Buffett were creators of the Giving Pledge, a program that requires participants to give away more than half of their wealth.
Buffett said his 16 annual contributions to the five foundations over the years were worth $41 billion when disbursed. Buffett is Berkshire's largest shareholder, owning about 39% of the Class A shares, according to FactSet.
Berkshire A shares have rebounded more than 20% to hit a record high in 2021 as many of the conglomerate's business recovered better than expected from the pandemic hit.
"I'm optimistic. Though naysayers abound — as they have throughout my life — America's best days most certainly lie ahead," Buffett said. "Philanthropy will continue to pair human talent with financial resources. So, too, will business and government. Each force has its particular strengths and weaknesses. Combined, they will make the world a better place — a much better place — for future generations."
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24 June, 2021 - 11:12am
On Wednesday, Buffett earmarked a $4.1 billion distribution for five foundations, bringing him closer to his 2006 pledge to give away all of his Berkshire stock, or 99 percent of his net worth at the time. He has donated about $41 billion so far.
But he said his philanthropic goals are “100 percent in sync with those of the foundation,” adding that his participation is “in no way needed” to achieve those goals.
“For years I have been a trustee — an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG),” Buffett wrote. “I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s.”
In his letter, Buffett said his late wife, Susan Thompson Buffett, had wanted to donate more money when they were young, but he held off. It was only after her death 17 years ago that he “stepped on the accelerator,” as he put it.
“Over many decades I have accumulated an almost incomprehensible sum simply by doing what I love to do,” Buffett wrote. “Compound interest, a long runway, wonderful associates and our incredible country have simply worked their magic. Society has a use for my money; I don’t.”
He said his remaining 238,624 class A shares are worth about $100 billion.
He encouraged other superwealthy people to give away the bulk of their fortunes, writing “the easiest deed in the world is to give away money that will never be of any real use to you or your family.”
Buffett’s wealth and philanthropy play into a broader debate over wealth in America. The Biden administration wants to increase taxes on corporations as well as heirs to fund an expensive infrastructure plan. And a 2011 Obama administration proposal dubbed the “Buffett rule” would have required millionaires and billionaires to pay the same tax rate as low-income families and other working people.
Buffett himself currently pays very little in taxes, in large part because almost all of his wealth is tied up in Berkshire Hathaway. A trove of leaked Internal Revenue Service documents published by the investigative news organization ProPublica showed that Buffett himself paid a true tax rate of 0.1 percent.
He addressed the issue indirectly in his letter Wednesday.
“I have relatively little income,” he wrote. “My wealth remains almost entirely deployed in tax-paying businesses that I own through my Berkshire stockholdings, and Berkshire regularly reinvests earnings to further grow its output, employment and earnings.”
Buffett’s philanthropic giving consists of 16 annual donations to five foundations, which then distribute funds to various nonprofits. According to public records reviewed by the trade publication Inside Philanthropy, they include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, three foundations run by his children and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which was founded in 1964 and later renamed after his late wife. The Gates Foundation is the largest recipient.
The eventual sources of Buffett’s giving is less understood, with donations often made anonymously. Much of the Susan Thompson Buffett’s Foundation’s giving has gone to various efforts to protect abortion rights, as well as women’s health organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
According to Inside Philanthropy, the smaller foundations run by Buffett’s family include the NoVo Foundation, which is focused on ending violence against women, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which contributes to environmental causes including food and water security, and the education-focused Sherwood Foundation.