Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has sold over 50% of his shares in the company. The transaction happened last week, netting Nadella $285 million. Analysts believe the sale was to avoid a general market downturn and to help Nadella take less of a high in upcoming capital tax increases in Washington.

In total, Satya Nadella shifted 838,584 shares. The sale was confirmed by Microsoft through a filing with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Later, the company said the CEO initiated the sale “for personal financial planning and diversification reasons.”

Microsoft was also quick to point out the sale is not a sign of a wider shift from Nadella. A spokesperson says the CEO remains “committed to the continued success of the company and his holdings significantly exceed the holding requirements set by the Microsoft Board of Directors.” 

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Nadella’s decision means he has sold more shares in a single transaction than he ever has since becoming CEO back in 2014.

Timing

However, the timing has also led some analysts to think Nadella is trying to minimize how much he will pay under Washington state’s new 7% capital gains tax. That new tax starts on January 1, 2022. Furthermore, Microsoft shares are likely to decline slightly following a recent peak.

When Nadella has sold shares in the past, they have usually been stock given to him as part of his compensation plan at Microsoft. This time the sale has come from his own held shares and not any compensation.

While investors can sometimes look down on a CEO profiting off shares, Nadella is unlikely to get criticism. He has steered Microsoft to massive growth an all-time high revenues and profits during his tenure as CEO.

Tip of the day: Worried about your privacy in Windows or want to keep different PCs linked to your Microsoft account strictly separate? We show you how to adjust your Windows 10 sync settings , including the clipboard, activity history/timeline, and themes.

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