Google co-founders loosen grip

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are relinquishing some of their control over the internet search leader with the sale of 10 million shares worth $5.5 billion (£3.4 billion).

Each will sell five million shares over five years to lessen the chances of hurting Google's stock price.

Page and Brin, both 36, will remain Google's most influential shareholders, although they will lose some of their clout. The two iconoclasts own a special class of Google stock that gives them combined voting power of about 59 per cent - enough to override the wishes of all other shareholders.

The duo secured the veto power to ensure Google remained true to their values, which are summed up in the company motto, "Don't Be Evil".

After the sales, the founders' holdings will be whittled to a combined 47.7 million shares with 48 per cent voting power. They run Google as a triumvirate with the company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, whose shares hold 10 per cent voting power.