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Zuckerberg reaps US$3.3 bil. windfall from stock options

SAN FRANCISCO--Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reaped a US$3.3 billion gain last year by exercising stock options in the social networking company that he founded in a Harvard University dorm room.

The windfall saddled Zuckerberg with a huge tax bill, even though he limited his Facebook salary to just US$1, according to regulatory documents filed Monday.

It marks the second straight year that Zuckerberg has realized a huge gain on the holding that he has accumulated in Facebook Inc. since he started the company in 2004. In 2012, Zuckerberg made US$2.3 billion off his stock options.

Zuckerberg, 29, now has exhausted his supply of stock options after exercising 60 million of them last year a price of 6 cents per share. He then sold 41.35 million shares for US$55.05 apiece in December, primarily to pay for his tax bill on the gains.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, also donated 18 million Facebook shares to a Silicon Valley nonprofit. The December gift, then valued at nearly US$1 billion, landed the couple at the top of The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of the most generous Americans.

Even after selling and donating so much Facebook stock, Zuckerberg still owns 426.3 million Facebook shares currently worth US$25.7 billion. The stock has more than doubled in value during the past year as Zuckerberg fulfilled his promise to sell more ads on the smartphones and tablet computers that bring in most of the traffic to Facebook's social networking service.

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