Gates to leave Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway boards

Bill Gates to leave boards of Microsoft, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway

Former AmEx CEO Kenneth Chenault tapped as replacement

Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates 

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc said on Friday that Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates is retiring from the conglomerate's board of directors, and is expected to be replaced by Kenneth Chenault, who spent 17 years as chief executive of American Express Co.

The Microsoft Corp co-founder has stepped down from the company's board to dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities including global health, education and tackling climate change, the company said on Friday.

Gates also stepped down from the board of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, where he has served since 2004.

Gates has about 1.76% shares in Microsoft right now.

The change was disclosed in Berkshire's annual proxy filing, ahead of its scheduled May 2 annual meeting.

Gates, 64, has served on Berkshire's board since 2004 but devotes much of his attention to his charitable organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He is also the world's second-richest person, worth $103.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Buffett ranks fourth, at $76 billion.

Neither Berkshire nor the Gates Foundation immediately responded to requests for comment.

Chenault, 68, led American Express from January 2001 to February 2018, and became one of the most prominent black CEOs in corporate America.

Berkshire is the largest shareholder in American Express, ending 2019 with an 18.7% stake in the travel and financial services company.

It said its governance committee reviewed 23 possible candidates for board seats in 2019, and Chenault emerged as "a standout and unanimous choice."

The proxy filing also detailed compensation for top Berkshire executives in 2019.

Buffett, 89, was awarded $374,773, including his usual $100,000 salary plus $274,773 for personal and home security services.

Vice Chairmen Greg Abel, 57, and Ajit Jain, 68, who respectively oversee Berkshire's non-insurance and insurance operations, were each awarded $19 million, up from $18 million in 2018.

Buffett sets compensation for Abel and Jain, who many investors view as top candidates to eventually succeed him as chief executive. Berkshire does not grant stock options.

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