Satya Nadella sells half his Microsoft stock, weeks before state implements capital gains tax

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in 2015. (GeekWire File Photo.)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sold half of his stake in the company in a series of transactions last week, divesting about 840,000 shares for a sum of more than $285 million, according to a regulatory filing.

Nadella sold the shares “for personal financial planning and diversification reasons,” the Redmond-based company said in a statement Monday afternoon. “He is committed to the continued success of the company and his holdings significantly exceed the holding requirements set by the Microsoft Board of Directors.”  

It comes in advance of Washington state implementing a controversial new capital gains tax. Passed by lawmakers in April, it primarily targets stock and business ownership sales with a 7% tax on long-term capital gains of more than $250,000.

The first such tax in state history, it’s set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Microsoft’s statement on Nadella’s stock sale did not address whether the impending capital gains tax factored into Nadella’s personal financial planning. A Wall Street Journal report cited analysts who pointed to a possible connection.

Washington state’s new capital gains tax is estimated to raise about $550 million annually starting in fiscal year 2023. The majority of the funds are slated to go toward early education and childcare.

The company’s shares closed up more than 2% on Monday at $336.63. Microsoft shares were trading around $36.35 when Nadella became CEO in February 2014, about a tenth of their current value.

Nadella sold shares on Nov. 22 and 23 at average prices ranging from $334 to more than $349, according to Microsoft’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Microsoft holds its annual shareholders meeting Tuesday morning.