Buffett donates US$1.5b in stock to charity

Warren Buffett, who is urging fellow billionaires to commit most of their wealth to philanthropy, gave away stock valued at about US$1.5 billion in his annual gift to the foundation established by Bill Gates.

The donation of 19.3 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares was made yesterday. The shares closed at US$77.77 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Buffett has pledged the majority of his holdings to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and to charities run by his three children and one named after his first wife, Susan Thompson Buffett, who died in 2004. His chosen philanthropies combat poverty and disease, fund US education initiatives and promote access to abortions.

Buffett, 80, said in March: "If you succeed in everything you're doing in charity, you're attempting things that are too easy."

Buffett said in 2006 when he pledged 10 million B shares to the Gates Foundation, that he would release 5 per cent of the remainder every year, meaning each instalment includes fewer shares than the prior award. He said he expected appreciation of the stock to compensate.

- Bloomberg

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