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Question mark as Zoom chief Yuan gives away $6bn

(ATF) Chinese-born billionaire Zoom founder Eric Yuan has transferred 40% of his shares in the firm – valued at about $6 billion – as “gifts” to an unnamed beneficiary.

The giveaway, which was reported to securities regulators in the US, where Zoom is listed and Yuan is now a citizen, went to “unspecified recipients”.

The secretive nature of the move has raised eyebrows, and precipitated a drop in the company’s share price.

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The “decision to transfer more than a third of his stake will raise some eyebrows,” Edward Moya of Oanda was quoted as telling the BBC.

“While a Zoom spokesperson noted that the transfer is consistent with the Yuans’ typical estate planning practices, investors will be nervous until we find out who is the recipient of the stock,” Moya added. “Yuan is only 51, married and has three children, so the distribution of his wealth could be viewed as rushed.”

Reports said that the handout came in the form of two distributions of nine million shares from Yuan and his wife’s trusts.

Zoom’s stock soared to a peak of $500 from $200 after pandemic lockdowns around the world forced millions of people to stay in touch with employers, family and friends through video conferencing platforms. The California-based company said it expects revenue to remain strong even as lockdowns are lifted.

Yuan was born in Shandong but moved to the US as a child. Inspired by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Yuan worked at Cisco Systems before founding Zoom in 2019. He is now estimated to have a personal fortune of about $14bn, according to Forbes.  

Mark McCord

Mark McCord is a financial journalist with more than three decades experience writing and editing at global news wires including Bloomberg and AFP, as well as daily newspapers in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. He has covered some of the biggest breaking news events in recent years including the Enron scandal, the New York terrorist attacks and the Iraq War. He is based in the UK. You can tweet to Mark at @MarkMcC64371550.


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