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Gates, Allen sell MS shares

The Microsoft cofounders sell nearly 3 million of the company's shares worth a total of about $280 million.

Microsoft (MSFT) cofounders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, along with a company executive, sold nearly 3 million shares of the company's stock last month.

Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief executive, sold 2 million shares in transactions valued at nearly $200 million, while company board member Allen sold 800,000 shares for upwards of $80.5 million between February 14 and 20. (Allen is an investor in CNET:The Computer Network.)

Paul Maritz, platform and applications vice president, sold 161,970 shares for roughly $15.4 million on February 5.

"This stock sale is part of the company's long-standing stock sale program that has certain windows when the stock can be sold," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla.

Investors are sometimes spooked when executives and board members are selling large numbers of their shares, as it raises the question whether shareholders should be doing the same.

Last November, Gates sold 800,000 shares. Allen, meanwhile, had sold 1.9 million shares, 3.6 percent of his stake in the company.