Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and his foundation bought $508 million in shares of Cox Communications Inc., the No. 5 U.S. cable-television provider.
Cascade Investment, Gates' personal investment company, bought 8.1 million shares Oct. 29, Cox said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased an additional 5.4 million shares.
Microsoft, which analysts say invests in cable firms to ensure it can sell software for interactive TV and deliver future services over the Web, had $38.2 billion in cash at the end of last year to make new investments.
The company is backing Comcast Corp.'s planned $72-billion acquisition of AT&T Corp.'s AT&T Broadband, the biggest U.S. cable operator. Cox, loser to Comcast in the bidding for AT&T Broadband, may now set its sights on Adelphia Communications Corp., perhaps with Microsoft's support, said David Joyce, an analyst at Guzman & Co.