Steve Ballmer Says He Owns 4% Stake in Twitter

Steve Ballmer Says He Owns 4% Stake in Twitter
  • Investment gives him bigger holding than CEO Jack Dorsey
  • Former Microsoft chief joins Saudi prince as Twitter investors

Former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has acquired a 4 percent stake in Twitter Inc., giving him a bigger holding than the social-media company’s new CEO, Jack Dorsey.

“Glad I bought 4% past few months,” the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team tweeted Friday. He praised Dorsey, who was appointed last week, for making the company “leaner, more focused.”

https://twitter.com/Steven_Ballmer/status/654887753893543936

Twitter is working to improve its product to attract and keep more users, and Ballmer praised the social-media company’s new Moments product, which helps people follow major events. The San Francisco-based company this week said it would cut 8 percent of its global workforce to improve focus.

Ballmer could be interested in a seat on Twitter’s board, said James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. Such an appointment would give Twitter connections and experience in professional sports--an important business for the social-media company as it works to be a valued source of information about major events, he said.

Twitter shares rose 4.9 percent to $31.15 at the close in New York, their highest level since July 30.

The investment, valued at about $840 million based on Friday’s closing stock price, would put Ballmer among Twitter’s biggest individual shareholders. Companies aren’t required to list outside individual investors whose holdings are less than 5 percent. Twitter co-founder Ev Williams has a 6.8 percent holding and Dorsey has 3 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal last week disclosed that he had more than a 5 percent holding.

‘Smart Guy’

Ballmer’s 4 percent holding in Microsoft is the only other stake he has disclosed in a public company. Ballmer, who has a net worth of $21.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, declined to comment further about the Twitter investment.

“He’s a brilliant man, he’s clearly a very smart guy, but he is the guy who thought the iPhone was a joke. He is the guy who bought Nokia” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities Inc. “It doesn’t make me like Twitter any more or less.” Pachter has a neutral rating for Twitter’s stock and a price target of $30 a share.

In August 2013, Ballmer said he would retire from Microsoft, amid disagreements with Microsoft’s board over strategy, a plan to acquire Nokia Oyj’s handset unit and pressure from an activist investor.

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