Steve Ballmer Steps Down From Microsoft Board -- Update

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Shira Ovide

Former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, newly installed as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, is stepping down from the company's board after 14 years.

"I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off," Mr. Ballmer said in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft published the letter on its website Tuesday. "I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time," he wrote.

Mr. Ballmer's plans to step down as a director complete a dramatic handover of power at Microsoft. For the first time in the company's 39-year history, someone other than Mr. Ballmer and Bill Gates will be in charge of the company. Mr. Gates also stepped down as Microsoft's chairman in February, when Mr. Nadella was named CEO. Mr. Gates remains a company director.

It's been unclear how long Mr. Ballmer would stay on as a Microsoft director. While he had told people his position as a significant Microsoft stock holder gave him reasons to stay involved with the company, people close to Microsoft has said it seemed increasingly likely Mr. Ballmer would relinquish his board seat soon.

Mr. Ballmer is largest individual shareholder in Microsoft with a 4.05% stake, worth more than $15 billion, according to FactSet Research. He passed his former boss, Mr. Gates, who owns $13.5 billion, earlier this year.

Mr. Ballmer closed last week on his $2 billion purchase of the Clippers from Donald Sterling and led a pep rally for the fan base at Staples Center on Monday that appeared to endear him to the community. Long interested in buying an NBA team, Mr. Ballmer's bid was three times the record price for an NBA franchise.

He disclosed his plan to step down as Microsoft's CEO a year ago, and Mr. Nadella was named to the top post in February.

Write to Shira Ovide at shira.ovide@wsj.com

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  08-19-141512ET
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