Warren Buffett Steps Away From Middleman Spot in Gates Divorce

Warren Buffett is getting out from the middle of a potentially contentious split.

As his friends Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates grapple with a divorce and its implications for the pair’s $50 billion foundation, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. executive is stepping down as one of the foundation’s trustees. Buffett made clear he had an “inactive” role on the board, but he was one of just three trustees, which could have placed him in the role of taking sides over its future direction, a potentially fraught situation as the only other board members are the now ex-couple.

“My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals,” Buffett said Wednesday in a statement that also addressed his charitable giving, tax topics and dynastic wealth.

It’s another sign that the 90-year-old billionaire is winding down some of his responsibilities and is consistent with his longstanding desire to skirt some issues rife with conflict. Since Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced their divorce last month after 27 years of marriage, there have been reports of infidelity, Gates’s ties to the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and coverage that his money manager Michael Larson operated a toxic work environment.

That’s raised concern that Bill and Melinda French Gates will struggle to work together at the foundation, where their priorities have already somewhat diverged. Despite assurances that nothing would change following their split, some employees are nervous about the direction of the organization.