Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., donated $1.6 billion in his annual gift to the foundation established by Bill Gates.
The value of the July 1 donation, which was made in Berkshire Class B stock, rose about 28 percent from $1.25 billion last year, according to a regulatory filing today. The number of shares given fell 5 percent to 20.4 million, when last year’s count is adjusted to reflect a 50-for-1 share split. In the 12 months, Berkshire has gained about a third.
Buffett, 79, is giving away a personal fortune that was estimated at $47 billion by Forbes magazine in March. Four years ago, he pledged most of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which combats global hunger and funds U.S. education initiatives. This year’s gift is Buffett’s biggest since the $1.8 billion he gave in 2008.
“Buffett’s gift to the Gates Foundation is one of the most transformative events in philanthropy in the last decade,” said Melissa Berman, president and chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York.
The Class B shares slipped $1.57, or 2 percent, to $77.24 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has gained about 18 percent this year. The value of the gift was calculated from yesterday’s closing price of $78.81. Buffett’s filing didn’t contain a dollar total.
Buffett also donated $160 million in shares to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for his first wife, who died in 2004. The billionaire gave $56 million of stock to each of his three children’s charities.
Berkshire, based in Omaha, Nebraska, had net income last year of $8.06 billion, a 61 percent increase from 2008. In February, Buffett completed the biggest takeover of his career, the $27 billion purchase of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.
Buffett and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and world’s second-richest man behind Mexico’s Carlos Slim, are pressing fellow billionaires to give more. On June 16, the two men and Gates’s wife Melinda Gates announced a campaign called “The Giving Pledge” to induce the wealthiest individuals and couples to commit half their fortunes to charity.
Gates, 54, is a Berkshire director.