Halfway home

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie this week announced they will both be donating some Research In Motion shares to their respective foundations and selling additional shares. For Balsillie, about 800,000 shares are involved with half going to a charitable foundation. At $50 a share, that’s about $40 million.

The gift by Lazaridis is larger. He will be divesting 1,050,000 shares. Of that, 350,000 shares will go to the foundation with the remaining 700,000 shares sold over an 18-month period plus additional shares until the value reaches $200 million.

Some of the shares to be divested by the co-CEOs come from options that expire in January 2011. The rest are from current holdings, which remain sizeable. Balsillie owns 27.5 million shares, Lazaridis 29.2 million.

Add this activity to the $400 million they’ve already donated during the last decade to various new institutions and the two men are well on their way to meeting the recent urgings of Warren Buffet that billionaires give away half their wealth. At current prices, Balsillie is worth $1.4 billion, Lazaridis $1.5 billion.

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