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Google's uneven share out

A US regulation requiring companies to report sales of shares by employees has thrown the spotlight on how Google has divvied up the wealth following its IPO last August.

Filings detailing share sales by 400 Google employees have been made public, showing trades worth tens of millions of dollars made by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, down to the sale of five shares by one employee for $850.

There are concerns that the details could spark discontent at the company, which prides itself on doing things differently from other corporations and has an egalitarian culture.

When Google's founders filed forms detailing their IPO plans, they outlined the company's manifesto, which included points such as "Don't be evil" and "Make the world a better place". But if employees discover that their colleagues have sold thousands of shares in the company, while they were given a much smaller holding, it may not help to foster goodwill at the firm.

Details of the trades cover shares bought privately by employees in the run-up to the flotation, and are therefore not covered by rules regarding employee share options.

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