REFILE-Microsoft CEO sells 12 pct of his stake, says committed

(Refiles to add “of his” to headline to make plain Ballmer
selling 12 percent of his stake in company)

* CEO Ballmer sells $1.3 bln in Microsoft shares

* Says sale for financial diversification and tax planning

* Says will sell more shares by year end

* Still second-largest holder behind Bill Gates
(Adds details on Ballmer, Gates’ share holding)

By Bill Rigby

SEATTLE, Nov 5 (BestGrowthStock) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) Chief
Executive Steve Ballmer sold $1.3 billion worth of shares in
the company, cutting his stake by about 12 percent, but said
his first stock sale in seven years should not be taken as a
lack of confidence in the world’s largest software firm.

Ballmer said he will sell more shares by the end of the
year, in a move to diversify his investments and plan for
taxes, but the company sought to allay talk that the 54-year
old executive, who has been CEO since 2000, may be preparing an
exit from the company.

“Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to
be clear about this to avoid any confusion,” Ballmer said in a
statement on the company’s Website. “I am excited about our new
products and the potential for our technology to change
people’s lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and
its success.”

Ballmer, who was the first business manager at Microsoft
when he joined in 1980, has not shown any interest in stepping
down or leaving the company, despite some criticism from Wall
Street over the company’s lagging shares, which are trading at
the same level as 2002.

According to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission on Friday, Ballmer sold 49.3 million Microsoft
shares in the last three days, at prices just above and below
$27 per share.

Ballmer said he plans to sell up to 75 million shares by
the end of this year. If he does sell that many shares, that
would mean a 18 percent cut in Ballmer’s stake, based on the
408 million shares he held before the sales in the last few
days.

As of Friday, Ballmer still holds about 359 million
Microsoft shares, or 4.2 percent of the company, worth about
$9.6 billion. That makes him the second largest shareholder
behind Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, according to Thomson
Reuters data.

Gates, who holds about 621 million shares, or about 7.2
percent of the company, regularly sells shares in batches of 1
million or 2 million to fund his philanthropic foundation.

Microsoft shares were unchanged in after-hours trading on
Friday, after closing down 1 percent at $26.85 on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Bernard Orr)

REFILE-Microsoft CEO sells 12 pct of his stake, says committed