Bill and Melinda Gates’s Trust Sheds Coca-Cola, Adds UPS to Holdings

ATLANTA (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS) -

The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, which manages the assets of the $42.3 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has sold its holdings of Coca-Cola stock and added UPS to its portfolio, according to a Bloomberg report, citing filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The report said the trust, formed by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, sold 21.4 million shares of Coke stock valued at $912.2 million in the fourth quarter. The trust purchased 4.5 million shares of UPS valued at $503.1 million. Both Coca-Cola and UPS are based in the Atlanta area.

Metro Atlanta and Georgia entities have benefited from grants from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years, including the Georgia Department of Education, Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc., Georgia Tech Research Corp. and the University of Georgia.

A spokesman for the Gates trust reportedly did not provide a reason for the change in investment strategy. Efforts were being made to reach Coca-Cola for comment.

Coca-Cola recently reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell 55 percent from the year-ago period. The company said 2015 will be a transition year and initiatives to strengthen its business will take time to materialize. On Tuesday, Coke shares closed down 18 cents at $41.81, and UPS shares closed up 72 cents at $102.51.

The package-delivery company, which recently increased its dividend, also reported disappointing fourth-quarter results, blaming increased costs to beef up operations for the year-end-shopping-season delivery rush.

The Gates trust also sold off its McDonald’s Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. holdings, according to the Bloomberg report. The 10.9 million McDonald’s shares were valued at $1 billion, and the 8.1 million Exxon Mobil shares were valued at $765.9 million.

The Gates trust, which also includes gifts from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is managed by a team of outside investment managers. Buffett also sits on Coca-Cola’s board of directors.