Mark Suzman, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced a contingency plan "to ensure the continuity of the foundation's work".
The announcement comes about two months after multibillionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates and his wife Melinda announced divorce plans, pledging, however, that they would keep working together at their charity foundation.
"If after two years either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee", Suzman said.
He added that under such a scenario, Bill Gates would remain in control and, essentially, buy his ex-wife out of the foundation.
Melinda French Gates, for her part, would receive "personal resources" from her former husband for her own philanthropic work, something that would be "completely separate from the foundation's endowment", according to Suzman.
The CEO also announced that the couple had committed $15 billion to the foundation's endowment, in addition to the break-up contingency plan.
The developments follow Warren Buffett, one of the foundation's major investors, resigning from his role as a trustee in June without specifying why he had decided to leave.
"My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals", Buffett, a longtime friend of Bill Gates, pointed out.
It remains unclear what caused their separation, given that the spouses had released twin statements, just saying that they no longer believe they "can grow together as a couple".