Years ago I worked as executive editor of a small, family owned publishing house. I learned a lot there from the owner who, while he did not match his financial success, did share what I think of as many of the good qualities of Sam Walton. I remember a conversation we had once regarding Wall Street and investments. My employer had been approached by a representative of some firm seeking capital to invest in a certain scheme (and, of course, fatten his pockets with the commission), but my boss turned down the offer saying simply that if he had any money to invest, he would invest in his own company. That was an attitude that I'm sure Sam Walton would have agreed with. All of that makes me wonder, after reading the two stories this morning---Wal-Mart Founder's Children Sell ~$309 Million In Wal-Mart Shares and Waltons' trust sells stock for $103.5M---about the attitude of Sam's heirs. (The Waltons were not the only ones selling stock: According to Market Digest:
Rosalind G. Brewer, executive vice president of Wal Mart Stores Inc sold 10,794 shares on Jun 29, 2016. The Insider selling transaction was reported by the company on Jul 1, 2016 to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The shares were sold at $71.65 per share for a total value of $773,390.12, the company said in a SEC Form 4 Filing.
Are there other shoes about to drop?) So, why did the Waltons sell nearly half-billion dollars worth of stock? In the first story, Andrew Efimoff writes:
Wal-Mart Stores Founder Sam Walton's children Jim, Alice and Robson each sold over $103.52 million worth of Wal-Mart shares on Wednesday night between $71.2 and $71.8 per share. The complete sale amounted to 4,350,000 shares total, 1,450,000 for each of the three Waltons.
Efimoff further added that the sale follows on a number of recent events including: the filing of a counter suit Visa in the ongoing dispute over the use of PINs vs. signatures for chip-enabled debit cards; and recent dealings with JD.com regarding Walmart's online business in China. At the end of the story Efimoff noted that Sam Walton wrote in his autobiography that his greatest fear was that his children would sell their Walmart stock. Like I said, Sam Walton was a very smart man. In the second story, Robbie Neiswanger writes:
Members of the Walton family sold 1.45 million shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stock from a trust established to trim the family's ownership stake and fund its charitable interests. The stock sale took place in three separate transactions over a two-day period this week, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The transactions netted about $103.5 million for members of the Walton Family Holdings Trust, which includes Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's children Jim, Alice and Rob Walton. In addition, the SEC filing indicates that Rob Walton made a charitable gift of 940,000 shares of stock from his personal holdings. The filing did not provide any specific details regarding the gift.
Charitable gifts at this level, while accomplishing many good works, are more about tax breaks and positive publicity, else the gifts would be made quietly and, when possible, anonymously. Nearly half-a-billion sounds huge to the 99 percent, but when you're the richest family in America worth an estimated $130 billion, that's less than pocket change. Maybe some of the money is going to help out mom? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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