Melinda Gates leaves board of Post Co.

Saturday, November 13, 2010; A08

Melinda French Gates, philanthropist and wife of billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has resigned from the Washington Post Co. board of directors, the company announced Friday.

Gates, a former Microsoft manager who runs the multibillion-dollar Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband, had joined the board in 2004.

She did not give a reason for stepping down. A family spokesman said she was spending more time than before working and traveling for the foundation.

The Post board's chairman, Donald E. Graham, said it is "sad at losing her."

The Post Co.'s Kaplan education unit has come under harsh scrutiny in news reports quoting former Kaplan employees who said that they had been instructed to use the Gates name to persuade students to take classes at the company.

Gates said in a statement released by The Post Co. that she has "been impressed with The Washington Post Company's work with Kaplan, whose new approaches to education are allowing students opportunities that would otherwise not be possible."

She also said the "mission" of The Post Co. "remains as vital today as at any time in its history."

Gates and her husband are close to Warren E. Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway company owns about 24 percent of The Post Co. Buffett has pledged to donate much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.

The Post board, which includes Buffett, now has 11 members.

- Steven Mufson

Top Google executives get 30 percent raise

Google has given its top executives a 30 percent salary bump, bigger than the 10 percent raise it gave its rank-and-file workers this week.

Google's top brass - chief executive Eric Schmidt and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page - will still take $1 a year in salary. Their fortunes are wrapped up in Google's stock.

But Google disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday that four other top executives - the chief financial officer and the heads of sales, engineering and product management - will see their salaries jump to $650,000 next year, up from $500,000.

The four executives also got equity awards worth a total of $55 million this year.

A spokesman said the company thinks that "competitive compensation plans are important to the future of the company."

- Associated Press

HGS shares fall as FDA questions lupus drug

U.S. drug reviewers questioned whether the benefits of a long-awaited Human Genome Sciences lupus drug outweigh concerns about suicide and other possible risks, but analysts said they still expect approval.

The company's shares fell nearly 11 percent after the Food and Drug Administration released Friday a preliminary review of the drug, Benlysta, as investors feared the negative comments suggested a tough path for the medicine.

If approved, Benlysta would be the first medicine cleared for fighting the debilitating autoimmune disease in a half-century. Annual global sales are forecast at $2.2 billion by 2014, according to Thomson Reuters.

FDA staff members said they would ask an advisory panel, set to meet Tuesday, if company findings provided a strong enough benefit to justify potential risks. A final FDA ruling is due by Dec. 9.

- Reuters

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