Former CEO will unload 3.2 million shares, keep 4.4 million for a rainy day
Google has announced that its executive chairman Eric Schmidt will sell 3.2 million shares, or 42 percent of his stake in the company, over the coming year. The plans were made public in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday.
The sell-off will be spread over 12 months, in order to avoid driving down the share price. Google has gained 11 percent in value so far this year.
A lot of Google
According to Forbes, Schmidt is the 138th-richest person in the world, with a fortune worth $7.5 billion. He had previously worked at Bell Labs, Xerox, Sun Microsystems and served as the CEO of Novell from 1997 to 2001.
Schmidt joined Google in March 2001, using his experience to help the co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin navigate the corporate world. Although the three ran the company as a triumvirate, Schmidt was Google’s CEO until 2011, when he was replaced by Page.
According to the SEC filing, the entrepreneur will sell 3.2 million out of 7.6 million shares he owns in the world’s most popular search engine operator. On Friday, Google shares traded at $785.37 (£498.5), making Schmidt’s offering worth over $2.5 billion (£1.6b).
The sell-off is meant to give Schmidt “individual asset diversification and liquidity”, and does not imply that he is exiting the company. “Eric remains completely committed to Google,” Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, told Bloomberg.
Last week, it was reported that Schmidt had some strong words to say about China, in a book called The New Digital Age. Along with his co-writer and head of Google Ideas thinktank Jared Cohen, Google’s former CEO said China was “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” and “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies.
The New Digital Age is set to be published in April.
Schmidt has also personally visited North Korea in January as part of the “private humanitarian mission” led by former New Mexico state governor Bill Richardson. He used this opportunity to urge the leadership of one of the least connected countries in the world to open up its networks and embrace the World Wide Web.
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