Former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer leaves software company's board

Los Angeles Clippers' new owner Steve Ballmer is introduced at a fan event in Los Angeles, California August 18, 2014. The former Microsoft CEO has quit the software company's board to devote more time to the team.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Los Angeles Clippers' new owner Steve Ballmer is introduced at a fan event in Los Angeles, California August 18, 2014. The former Microsoft CEO has quit the software company's board to devote more time to the team.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEATTLE (REUTERS) - Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has left the software company’s board in order to spend more time on his new project.

“I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” said Ballmer in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made public by Microsoft on Tuesday.

“The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately,” he wrote.

Ballmer’s exit from the board is not surprising after 12 months of change at the head of the 39-year old software giant.

A year ago this week, Ballmer surprised investors with his plan to retire from Microsoft, amid discontent at his leadership fuelled by activist shareholder ValueAct Capital.

That caused five months of uncertainty at the top of Microsoft until Feb 4, when veteran insider Nadella was appointed CEO and co-founder Bill Gates stepped down as chairman.

As Gates sells shares to fund his philanthropy, Ballmer has become the biggest individual shareholder in Microsoft, owning a 4 per cent stake worth about US$15 billion (S$18.7 billion).

“I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock,” Ballmer said in his letter to Nadella.

“I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.”

Microsoft shares were up 25 cents at US$45.08 on Nasdaq.

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