The soon-to-be ex-wife of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, has become an overnight billionaire after her husband transferred a huge amount of stock over to her.
The Bill Gates-owned Cascade Investment was seen to transfer $2.4 billion in securities to Mrs Gates. Cascade Investment is where the vast majority of the Gates' fortune lies. It has investments in a wide range of companies and firms across the world. The investment fund was set up after Gates sold almost all of his stock in Microsoft. He now owns less than 1% of the company.
The shares transferred to Melinda includes:
2.94 million shares of AutoNation, 14.1 million shares of Canadian National, 25.8 million shares of Mexico-based Coca-Cola Femsa, and 155.4 million shares of Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa SA.
The move now makes Melinda one of the richest women in the world and it is expected that she will gain much more wealth by the time the divorce is finalised. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has a personal fortune of $128.1 billion even after the current transfer, making him the tenth-richest person in the world. He has, on several occasions over previous years, occupied the number one spot.
The couple announced last week that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage, saying that the separation was on amicable terms. Their divorce is likely to be the most expensive in history, perhaps even larger than the divorce between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his former wife.
The couple run one of the biggest development charities in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to alleviate poverty around the world. Both have said that they will continue their work with the organisation.
Gates has been subject to a number of wild and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories during his time as one of the world's richest people and one of the most prominent philanthropists. As expected, a new conspiracy theory has popped up since the divorce was announced, alleging that the couple were divorcing in order to protect their assets from government seizure, or to protect themselves from tax implications under the new Biden administration.