With Google’s stock hovering at record highs, executive chairman Eric Schmidt plans to sell more than 40 percent of his stock in the Internet search leader this year.
The plan disclosed on Friday calls for Schmidt to sell up to 3.2 million shares. If he were to sell all that stock at Google’s current price, Schmidt would realize a US$2.5 billion windfall.
Schmidt ended December with 7.6 million Google shares, or a 2.3 percent stake in the company.
He would be left with about 4.4 million shares of Google stock worth another US$3.5 billion if he follows through on his divestiture plan for this year. He has gradually been winnowing his holdings in Google in recent years, without giving a specific reason.
The sale is part of a prearranged trading plan for Schmidt’s “long-term strategy for individual asset diversification and liquidity,” Google said on Friday in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Using this trading plan, Eric can diversify his investment portfolio and can spread stock trades out over a period of one year to reduce market impact,” it said.
Google’s stock rose US$11.42, or 1.5 percent, to close at US$785.37 on Friday. Earlier in the day, it traded at US$786.67 — its highest price since the company went public at US$85 per share in August 2004.
Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the only Google executives who own more stock than Schmidt. Page controls an 8.7 percent stake and Brin holds 8.5 percent. Each stake is currently worth nearly US$20 billion.