Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are planning to loosen their grip on the company, selling off a total of 10 million shares in a move that could generate more than $5bn (£3.1bn) at current share prices.
Page and Brin stated in a filing with US Security and Exchange Commission their intention to embark on a " five-year diversification plan" that will involve offloading five million shares each, representing approximately three per cent of Google's outstanding capital stock.
"These pre-arranged stock trading plans were adopted in order to allow Larry and Sergey to sell a portion of their Google stock over time as part of their respective long-term strategies for individual asset diversification and liquidity," read the filing.
"Using these plans, they can gradually diversify their investment portfolios and spread stock trades over an extended period to reduce market impact."
The filing added that the sale will see Page and Brin's footprint in the company drop from 57.7 million shares of Class B common stock to 47.7 million. This will mean that their stake in the firm drops from 18 per cent of outstanding capital stock to 15 per cent or, more importantly, 59 per cent of the voting power to just 48 per cent.
The move comes as Google announced strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, with revenue up 17 per cent on the same period in the previous year.
Chief executive Eric Schmidt, who also holds a stake in the company, said that the growth was particularly impressive given that "the global economy is still in the early days of recovery".
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