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Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer has sold about $1.3 billion worth of his company shares recently, the first time he's done so in seven years.

Ballmer confirmed the stock sales Friday and said they were for the purpose of diversifying his investments and aiding his year-end tax planning. He said he plans to sell as many as 75 million shares by year's end. Securities and Exchange Commission filings by Ballmer this week show he sold about 50 million shares.

Ballmer still holds about 350 million shares, worth some $9 billion at Microsoft's current price of around $26. Ballmer issued a statement "to avoid any confusion," saying he was excited about the Microsoft's new products and is fully committed to the company.

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