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eMachines founder spreads the joy--and the cash

The founder of the low-end PC maker shared the benefits of his company being sold by giving employees about $72.5 million of the proceeds gained from selling the company to Gateway.

Sometimes working for a low-cost PC maker has its benefits, especially when the founder is feeling generous.

Lap Shun "John" Hui rewarded eMachines' 140 employees by giving each of them a hefty bonus--some checks, some Gateway stock--according to company representatives. Hui gave workers about 25 percent of the proceeds of the sale, pocketing the remaining $217.5 million. The amounts of the bonuses varied according to a formula devised by Hui. About three dozen executives at eMachines, including former chief and new Gateway chief Wayne Inouye, split 12.5 million Gateway shares, which closed at $5.19 each the day the purchase was finalized.

The low-cost PC maker was bought by Gateway earlier this year for roughly $290 million. Gateway paid $30 million in cash and gave 50 million Gateway shares for eMachines. Hui has no current management role at Gateway.

The fortunes of Gateway employees have not been as good. Gateway closed its 188 retail stores earlier this month, laying off 2,500 workers, or about 38 percent of the work force. Employees will receive severance packages, according Gateway representatives.