January 20, 2007 / 12:55 PM / 12 years ago

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sets lifespan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has said it will spend all its assets within 50 years of them both dying, as the trustees want to focus the foundation’s work in the 21st century.

Bill and Melinda Gates address the opening ceremony at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, August 13, 2006. Their foundation has said it will spend all its assets within 50 years of them both dying, as the trustees want to focus the foundation's work in the 21st century. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski

In a statement posted on the charity’s Web site, dated November 29, the foundation said: “We will be spending all of our resources within 50 years after the last of Bill’s or Melinda’s death.” The news was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

“The decision to focus all of our resources in this century underscores our optimism for making huge progress and for making sure that we do as much as possible, as soon as possible, on the comparatively narrow set of issues we’ve chosen to focus on,” the foundation said in the statement.

Bill Gates, the world’s richest person, co-founded software company Microsoft Corp.. Earlier this year he announced plans to step down from his day-to-day role to focus on his foundation, one of the goals of which is to improve access to technology in U.S. public libraries. It also focuses on fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The foundation also announced in the November 29 statement that it would split its internal structure in two, an asset trust and a program foundation.

The asset trust will hold the foundation’s endowment including annual installments of funds from Warren Buffett. It will then fund the program foundation.

Bill and his wife Melinda will be the trustees for the asset trust, and the endowment will continue to be managed by a team of outside investment managers, it said.

The program foundation will conduct the foundation’s operations and grant-making work, and it is the entity from which all grants will be made. Bill and Melinda Gates and Buffett will be the trustees for the program foundation.

Buffett, who built the world’s second biggest personal fortune running Berkshire Hathaway Inc., an insurance and investment company, in June signed over much of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Buffett’s gift to that foundation will be in stages and conditioned on money being distributed the year it is donated.

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