The charitable foundation chaired by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates is considering shaking its governance after the couple of billionaires divorce filing, Weeks later saying no change was expected.
U Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has distributed $ 55 billion since its launch in 2000, is distinguished by many major philanthropies by not having independent directors.
Instead, it was governed by three trustees: Gates, French Gates and Warren Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway chair who pledged in 2006 to leave the foundation most of his estimated fortune of $ 110 billion.
“I actively discussed with Bill and Melinda steps that they and Warren could take to strengthen the long-term sustainability and stability of the foundation given the divorce of the co-chairs,” said Mark Suzman, the foundation’s executive director after The Wall Street Journal first reported that French Gates had pushed for changes in governance.
When the couple announced in early May that they had ended a marriage described in the divorce filing as “irretrievably broken,” the foundation had stressed that “no changes to their roles or organization are planned.” .
Suzman’s statement offers no explanation for the change in thinking about the foundation’s governance or details about how its governance might look in the future.
“No decision has been made,” he said. “Bill and Melinda have reaffirmed their commitment to the foundation and continue to work together on behalf of our mission. These discussions are part of their prudent planning for the future.”
The pending divorce has launched a question mark over the world’s largest private charitable foundation, which employs 1,600 people and spends more than $ 5 billion a year, largely on global health and development projects.
Most of the estimated $ 124 billion fortune that Gates made as co-founder of the Microsoft software group has not yet been committed to the foundation, and the divorce has fueled speculation that the remaining tens of billions of dollars could instead they are attributed to venture capital and philanthropy. vehicles him and French Gates operates separately.
In a interview with the Financial Times shortly before their divorce filing became public, French Gates said the couple had kept their personal disputes separate from the foundation’s decision.
“Don’t we agree? Sometimes, of course, we do. But what we… Engaged for many years in the foundation was that we should have these disagreements outside the foundation, resolve them, and come to the foundation as and leaders with one voice, ”he said.