Microsoft investors turn up heat on Bill Gates to step down as Microsoft chairman

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is under pressure from shareholders to quit as Microsoft chairman, it has emerged.

Three shareholders, who collectively hold 5% of the company’s stock, fear that Gates’ limits the adoption of new strategies.

Gates, who recently pipped Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim to become the world’s richest person, owns 4.5% of the $277bn company. He’s still the largest shareholder.

The Microsoft chief sells around 80 million shares every year. If he continues to do this, he will be left with no stake in the company by 2018.

Investors fear that Gates will “wield power out of proportion” despite his declining shareholding.

The news comes after Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announced in August he was stepping down. Investors feel that Gates might limit the power of Ballmer’s successor in making changes to the company.

“This is long overdue,” Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns Microsoft shares, told Reuters. “Replacing the old guard with some fresh eyes can provide the oxygen needed to properly evaluate their corporate strategy.”

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