UPDATE 1-Ecolab to let Bill Gates entities raise stake

Mon May 7, 2012 11:16am EDT

May 7 (Reuters) - Cleaning services company Ecolab Inc said it agreed to allow two entities controlled by Bill Gates to raise their stake to 25 percent, higher than the limit set by the company's stockholder rights plan.

In return, Cascade Investment LLC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust agreed not to seek control of the company and to support the Ecolab's director nominees as long as Cascade has one of its nominees as a company director, after they raise stake beyond the 15 percent threshold.

Cascade Investment LLC is an investment company and owns 9.3 percent of Ecolabs. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization which aims to enhance healthcare, expand education and reduce poverty, owns 1.5 percent.

Ecolab has a shareholder rights plan, or poison pill, with a trigger of 15 percent.

A stockholder rights plan, also called a poison pill, can make it possible for companies to issue new shares at a discount if an investor acquires a stake over a specified threshold, making a takeover difficult.

Ecolab shares were up 2 percent at $64.54 in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange.