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Google (NSDQ: GOOG) just put out an SEC filing indicating that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will soon begin to sell off some of their holdings in the company, as part of a predetermined trading plan. The men intend to sell about 10 million shares in the company over the next five years, representing about 17 percent of their holdings. According to the filing, that would mean that they would control about 48 percent of Google’s voting power, down from 59 percent, effectively giving up majority control of the company, although they, of course, would continue to wield significant executive power given the amount of stock it would take to overrule them.
The filing states that Brin and Page are selling off the shares — which at today’s prices are valued at about $5.5 billion — as part of their “respective long-term strategies for individual asset diversification and liquidity.” (We’ve asked Google to elaborate).
The approach is common among founders of publicly-traded companies, including Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, who sells a pre-specified amount of his Microsoft holdings each quarter in order to diversify his portfolio.