LONDON, June 7 Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates has sold his entire stake in G4S Plc , the British security firm trying to bounce back from a series of scandals that have hurt its reputation and profits, Bloomberg News reported.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and Cascade Investment, an asset management firm owned by Bill Gates, had last June disclosed a stake in G4S, when its holding crossed the 3 percent threshold for the first time.
A filing on May 28 showed the holding was reduced below 3 percent, and the news agency said a spokesman for the Gates family had confirmed it no longer held any interest.
"Like other large foundations, the foundation trust evaluates its holdings regularly, both for performance and fit," spokesman John Pinette was quoted saying. "As a result of this, the foundation trust no longer holds an investment in G4S."
G4S declined comment and the Gates Foundation could not immediately be reached for comment.
G4S, which runs services such as cash transportation and prison management in more than 125 countries, is in the middle of overhauling its sprawling business, shaking up management, cutting costs, improving customer service and restructuring weak divisions to help revive its fortunes.
Having failed to provide enough security guards for the London 2012 Olympics, G4S suffered another scandal last July when, alongside rival Serco Group Plc, it was banned from new UK government work after being found to have charged for monitoring criminals who were dead, in prison or not tagged at all.
On Thursday G4S's own security guards ejected protesters from its annual shareholders' meeting, after they criticised the company's work in Israel, where it provides security at prisons and occupied Palestinian territories.
Gates's investments range from stakes in the Canadian National Railway Co to drinks group Diageo Plc.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to eradicate the world's most deadly diseases and poverty. (Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by David Holmes)