Bill Gates announces divorce with Melinda Gates after 27 years

Washington, United States: Bill and Melinda Gates, billionaire philanthropists, have declared their divorce after 27 years of marriage, raising concerns about how they will divide their wealth and the future of one of the world's most powerful charity organisations.

With a combined fortune of $130 billion, the couple has directed billions of dollars into humanitarian work around the world through their enormously successful Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

They stated that they will continue to collaborate on the foundation, which supports projects in global health, gender equality, education, and other areas.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," they said in a joint statement, posted on each of their official Twitter accounts on Monday.

"Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," they wrote.

"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.

The statement offered no additional details on the split but said: "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

The news comes two years after the divorce of Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie, another of the world's richest people.

Met at Microsoft 

Bill Gates, 65, was a geeky teenager when he founded what would become the world's most profitable business, and he was once the world's richest man and most influential philanthropist.

He stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2008 to devote more time to philanthropy, and he later left the board, with only the role of "founder and technology advisor" remaining.

Melinda Gates, 56, met Bill at Microsoft shortly after joining the company in 1987, and the couple married in 1994.

In a 2019 Netflix documentary series, he described his wife as "truly an equal partner," while she looked back on some of their first interactions to call him "funny and very high-energy."

Their foundation is one of the wealthiest in the world, having provided more than $54 billion in grants to different parts of the world in fields such as malaria and infectious disease prevention, agricultural research, basic health care, and sanitation over the last two decades.

It has a more than $46 billion endowment.

Despite co-creating the Giving Pledge, which enables billionaires to devote the majority of their wealth to charity, the couple's divorce could raise new concerns about their wealth, the majority of which has yet to be donated to their foundation.

"The divorce of the most important and consequential couple in philanthropy raises all kinds of questions about the future of @gatesfoundation, and even the future of philanthropy," political scientist Rob Reich said on Twitter.

The Stanford University professor expressed hope that the foundation will release a statement on the consequences of the divorce in the near future.

Bill Gates has increasingly distanced himself from Microsoft and the tech industry in recent years, speaking more about poverty and health programs, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the foundation promised $250 million to combat the pandemic, with some of the funds going toward the delivery of life-saving doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Gates, who had warned about the risks of a global pandemic as early as 2015, became the victim of conspiracy theorists who said he was aware of Covid-19 in advance.

The divorce follows Bezos' high-profile divorce, in which his ex-wife took the name MacKenzie Scott and then started donating billions to different causes without establishing a traditional foundation.


With AFP inputs. 

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