SAP’s Plattner to Keep $9.4 Billion Stake in Gates Pledge

Hasso Plattner, the co-founder and chairman of SAP AG, the world’s largest maker of business management software, said that he would donate all of the assets in his foundation to Bill Gates’s Giving Pledge.

Plattner made the statement yesterday after the German newspapers Bild and Tagesspiegel published reports that denied the 69-year-old had made the pledge. The two publications quoted Plattner as saying that Gates had been trying for years to get him to join the initiative, although he wouldn’t let himself be “pressured.”

“I am happy to be a member of the Giving Pledge,” Plattner said. “In this role I will leverage the entire capital of my foundation with its focus on education, culture, and health in the spirit of the worldwide aspirations of The Giving Pledge.”

As a condition to joining the pledge, the German billionaire won’t give up any of his 10 percent interest in the software company he co-founded with former International Business Machines Corp. employees in 1972, according to Daniel Reinhardt, a spokesman for Walldorf, Germany-based SAP. His stake in the company is worth 7.1 billion euros ($9.4 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

First German

Members of the Giving Pledge, whose co-founders include Warren Buffett, typically commit to give away at least half of their wealth to charitable organizations and philanthropic causes. Buffett, 82, is the fourth-richest person on the planet with a net worth of $53.8 billion, according to the index. Gates, 57, ranks second and has a fortune of $66.2 billion. Plattner was initiated yesterday, according to a statement on the Giving Pledge’s website.

“The Giving Pledge is a commitment to give the majority of one’s wealth to philanthropy either in one’s lifetime or in one’s will,” Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Bellevue, Washington-based Giving Pledge, said in an e-mailed statement. Plattner is the first German billionaire to join the pledge.

SAP shares have gained 21 percent over the past 12 months. They slipped 0.8 percent to 59.49 euros, valuing the software maker at 73 billion euros. Plattner has a net worth of $10.9 billion, making him the 99th-richest person, according to the index.

“As long as I live, I won’t donate more than 50 percent of my shareholding in SAP,” Plattner was quoted by Bild as saying. “I am responsible for the company that I co-founded, and I can only be responsible if I have control -- that means owning the shares.”

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