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He departs as world’s 44th richest person

– Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, the world’s 44th-richest person, has seen his net worth jump $786 million after announcing his retirement from the world’s largest software maker.

The 57-year-old is the second-largest individual shareholder of Microsoft, after co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates, the world’s richest man. Ballmer has a net worth of $16.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

He said he plans to step down within the next 12 months after serving as CEO since 2000.

“Investors want new leadership to navigate the company in a world that doesn’t rely on the PC anymore,” said Jack Ablin, who helps oversee about $66 billion as chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank in Chicago, by phone. “In a big picture sense, he’s done a good job.”

Microsoft shares rose 7.3 percent to $34.75 at the close of trading in New York. The stock has gained 30.1 percent during the year, driving up Gates’ fortune by 15.4 percent and Ballmer’s by 21.5 percent.

Gates, 57, co-founded Microsoft with billionaire Paul Allen in 1975 and is still its largest individual shareholder with a 4.8 percent stake. Ballmer, who joined Microsoft in 1980, holds 4 percent. Allen, 60, who controlled as much as 28 percent of Microsoft shares, now holds 2 percent, according to the index.

The world’s richest man sees about 19 percent of his $72.4 billion fortune derived from Microsoft shares and saw his net worth rise by $1.1 billion.

Almost 70 percent of Ballmer’s fortune is derived from Microsoft shares.

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