Nokia CEO Stephen Elop currently holds an estimated $3.18m worth of Microsoft shares, making him the eighth largest individual shareholder in the company, and giving him a vested interest in making sure the new partnership over Windows Phone is successful. Acquired during his nearly two year tenure at Microsoft as head of the company’s business division, the 130,026 shares put him on a top ten list with Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. Elop had begun to divulge his Microsoft shareholding after joining Nokia last year, but was forced to halt sales after the companies began negotiations lest he be accused of insider trading.
Now, it’s worth noting that it’s certainly not unusual for a high-ranking executive to hold a considerable number of shares in the company they work for, but it certainly becomes topical when that executive later goes on to help organize a partnership between his new employer and the firm in which he is a shareholder. The normal course of action is for the executive in question to sell off their shares, as Elop attempted to do so, but the fast pace of the Microsoft deal left him still holding around 40-percent and, in turn, unable to hold Nokia stock.
That may have been a blessing in disguise. Despite the hyperbole at Friday’s capital markets day, Nokia shares dived over 15-percent on the New York Stock Exchange; in comparison, Microsoft shares dipped as well but by a far lesser amount. Elop’s remaining holding is also a small stake in comparison to other investors; 130k is dwarfed by mutual fund and institutional investors, which in turn lag significantly behind Bill Gates’ $16.06bn-valued holding.
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