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Gift of billions
will benefit global AIDS programs

Gift of billions
will benefit global AIDS programs

Warren Buffett, the world's second-richest person, is donating about $37 billion--more than 80% of his fortune--to foundations run by his friend Bill Gates and by the Buffett family.

The move is the biggest-ever single act of charitable giving in the United States.

Sunday's announcement by Buffett, 75, comes just days after Microsoft chairman Gates said he would move away from his day-to-day role at the software giant to focus more on charity work, and highlights the close friendship of the world's two richest men.

In a letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffett said he will set aside 10 million shares of Berkshire class B common stock for the foundation. Based on the stock's per-share price of $3,071.01 as of Friday, the total amount for the Gates foundation comes to about $30 billion.

That is the largest commitment to a philanthropic cause ever made by one person in the United States, said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Gates foundation is one of the world's richest philanthropic organizations. It has committed millions of dollars to fighting diseases in developing countries, with much of its focus being to combat the spread of HIV and to provide drug treatment and medical care to HIV-positive people.

In a letter to Gates and his wife, Buffett wrote: "You have committed yourselves to a few extraordinarily important but underfunded issues, a policy that I believe offers the highest probability of your achieving goals of great consequence."

Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, is worth an estimated $44 billion, according to Forbes magazine. That makes him the world's second-richest man behind Gates, who is worth about $50 billion. Buffett took over Omaha-based Berkshire in 1965 and has transformed it from a struggling textile maker into a $141.8 billion company with investments in undervalued securities and purchases of well-managed, easy-to-understand businesses. (Reuters)

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