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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

Bezos divorce terms ease concern over who controls Amazon

MacKenzie Bezos retains four per cent of Amazon

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie announced their finalised divorce on Twitter on Thursday. AP
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie announced their finalised divorce on Twitter on Thursday. AP

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos will keep 75 per cent of his stock in the company after his divorce from MacKenzie Bezos, the couple announced on Thursday.

The announcement eliminated any concern that the split would influence his control over one of the world’s most valuable businesses.

Mr Bezos will continue to be the largest shareholder of the e-commerce giant, which is valued at almost $900 billion (Dh3.305 trillion), and gain voting control of his former wife’s remaining shares.

He will also maintain ownership of the The Washington Post and his space exploration company, Blue Origin.

Amazon investors mostly shrugged off news in January of the couple’s divorce after 25 years of marriage.

Thursday's statement confirms that the company will face few complications, said RJ Hottovy, an analyst at Morningstar.

“I see the announcement as a positive for shareholders,” Mr Hottovy said. “The fact that Jeff Bezos will retain sole voting authority over the shares should alleviate some ownership concerns.”

Ms Bezos posted on Twitter: “Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reached out to us in kindness.

“Happy to be giving him all of my interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75 per cent of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies.”

She keeps four per cent of Amazon, or about 19.7 million shares worth about $35.7bn, the company said in a filing.

That makes Ms Besos the world’s fourth-richest woman, Bloomberg data shows.

Amazon shares dipped less than 1 per cent at 1.38pm in New York.

The couple announced their divorce not long before the National Enquirer published an article saying Mr Bezos was having a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV presenter.

The announcement sparked speculation about how their wealth, estimated at more than $130bn, would be divided.

Mr Bezos is the world’s richest person and will remain in that position after the divorce, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows.

He is still embroiled in a public relations feud with the National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media, about how the company learnt of his extramarital affair and obtained graphic photos he sent his lover.

The tabloid said it learnt of the affair from Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren.

Jeff and MacKenzie met in New York at the hedge fund DE Shaw.

Mr Bezos was the first person to interview her for a role at the hedge fund and the pair ended eventually had offices next to each other, Vogue reported in 2013.

They married in 1993 and a year later drove across the country to Seattle, where Mr Bezos founded Amazon. They have four children.

Ms Bezos, an author, played a significant role at the company in the early years but her presence faded later.

Most high-ranking employees saw her at social events the couple hosted at their home in Medina, Washington, and elsewhere.

They would also be seen with their children at Lakeside, a Seattle private school.

When Amazon displayed its new biospheres, the plant-filled architectural centrepiece of its Seattle headquarters, the couple toured the building with a horticulturist.

Ms Bezos also accompanied her husband to Hollywood events after Amazon began a concerted push into video and original programming.

Updated: April 5, 2019 12:37 AM

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