In what has become an annual ritual, Berkshire Hathaway has announced that its chairman, Warren E. Buffett, has converted Class A shares of his Berkshire holdings into Class B shares and donated almost all of the latter to five foundations.
According to the Omaha-based conglomerate, Buffett, a co-founder and signatory of the Giving Pledge, converted 12,500 of his Class A shares into 18.75 million Class B shares and donated more than 18.62 million of the latter, valued at $3.17 billion, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four foundations established by his late wife and children: the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the NoVo Foundation. With the gift, Buffett, who has never sold any of his Berkshire stock, has given more than 40 percent of his 2006 holdings in the conglomerate to the five foundations. The total value of those gifts (including this year's), as calculated from the share price at the time the A shares were converted, is $27.54 billion.
Buffett has said he plans to give all his Berkshire shares to philanthropy through annual gifts that will be completed ten years after his estate is settled. In each case, his A shares will be converted into B shares immediately prior to the gift.