On Wednesday 7th July, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced that he has donated $2.9 billion in shares of Berkshire Hathaway to five philanthropies including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This donation comprised 15.97 million Class B Shares of Berkshire given Hathaway to 5 foundations;
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which gets four-fifths of the donations
- Susan Thompson Foundation, named for Buffet’s late first wife
- Howard G. Buffet Foundation, run by one of Warren Buffet’s children
- Sherwood Foundation, run by one of Warren Buffet’s children
- NoVo Foundation, run by one of Warren Buffet’s children
Warren Buffet who turns 90 on August 30, established an annual giving plan, under which he converts his Class A shares into Class B shares and donate them to charities. Buffet has given away more than $37 billion of his wealth over the last 14 years.
The difference between Class A shares and Class B shares of a company’s stock usually comes down to the number of voting rights assigned to the shareholder. Class A shareholders usually have more voting rights than owners of other classes of stock.
According to Reuters, although Buffet has donated 48% of his Berkshire shares, he still owns 15.5% of the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate and controls 31% of its voting power. This amounts to 248,734 class A shares worth $67.5 billion; the Class A shares of the company closed at $268,406.20 per share, while the Class B shares closed at $178.00 per share in the last trading session on the New York Stock Exchange.
For his charitable donations, Warren Buffet gets minor tax benefits: the combined federal and state income taxes he has paid, including projections for 2020, have been reduced by 43 cents for each $1,000 donated, Berkshire said in a statement.
Forbes estimates that Buffet had a net worth of $71.4 billion prior to the latest gift. In his annual letter to shareholder, Buffet outlined his plans for his stake in Berkshire Hathaway after his death.
In the letter he said, “Today my will specifically directs its executors – as well as the trustees – to each year convert a portion of my A shares into B shares and then distribute the Bs to various foundations. Those foundations will be required to deploy their grants promptly.
“In all, I estimate that it will take 12 to 15 years for the entirety of the Berkshire shares I hold t my death to move into the market.”