Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft Corp are lobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the company he co-founded 38 years ago,according sources.
A representative for Microsoft declined to comment on Tuesday. There is no indication that Microsofts board would heed the wishes of the three investors,who collectively hold more than 5 per cent of the companys stock,according to the sources. They requested the identity of the investors be kept anonymous because the discussions are private. Gates owns about 4.5 per cent of the $277 billion company and is its largest individual shareholder.
The three investors are concerned that Gates presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular,they point to Gates role on the special committee searching for the companys CEO Steve Ballmers successor.
They are also worried that Gates wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding. Gates,who owned 49 per cent of Microsoft before it went public in 1986,sells about 80 million Microsoft shares a year under a pre-set plan,which if continued would leave him with no financial stake in the company by 2018.