Founder and Chairman Bill Gates and outgoing Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will be standing for the re-election to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s board of directors, reveals the company’s annual proxy filing Thursday. Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates have been at the receiving ends of activist investors who feel that Microsoft is in dire need of new leadership to transform itself and give competition to rivals such as Apple and Google.
Investors lobbying against Gates and Ballmer
Ballmer will step down from the post of CEO within 12 months as he announced in August. However, Chairman Bill Gates will continue with the company as there is no announcement for him to leave the board of the company founded by him 38 years ago along with Paul Allen.
According to Reuters, this week top 20 investors in Microsoft lobbied the board to force Gates to leave his position in the company. They note that Gates is hindering the fundamental changes in the company. “It is highly likely” that Ballmer and Gates are re-elected at the annual shareholders meeting on November 19, says Reuters.
Ballmer to stay as major investor
Ballmer will step down, but replacement has been finalized yet, and finding the new candidate could stretch upto next August. Ballmer will be the CEO of Microsoft till then, but there is no word over Ballmer continuing as the board member after that.
Ballmer, however, in a meeting last month with analysts said that he will remain as the major investor in the company.
Bill Gates is the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft, according to Proxy filing. He holds 4.5 percent stake in the company while Ballmer holds 4 percent stake. Ballmer will be ahead of Gates and become the largest stake holder if Bill Gates continues to sell 20 million shares every quarter as he has been doing for most of the last decade.
Mason Morfit, president of activist shareholder ValueAct Capital Management was not named in the filing. Morfit was offered a seat on the board and is likely to accept the offer after which he will be appointed following the Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting according to the sources.
Ballmer was given credit of leading record profit for the company at $78 billion revenue last fiscal year, but at the same time was criticized for the decline in profit from Windows segment and lack luster performance of Windows Surface RT tablet that resulted in a $900 million charge for unsold inventory.