Amazon's Bezos, wife reach biggest divorce deal in history

Mr Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their separation in January.
Mr Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their separation in January.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Wife to control nearly $49b in tech giant's shares, making her third wealthiest woman

NEW YORK • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife have finalised the biggest divorce settlement in history, leaving him with 75 per cent of their stock in the tech giant and giving her nearly US$36 billion (S$49 billion) in shares.

Mrs MacKenzie Bezos said she would give all of her stake in The Washington Post and the space exploration firm Blue Origin to her husband - the world's richest man - as well as voting control of her remaining Amazon stock.

Mr Jeff Bezos, 55, and Mrs MacKenzie Bezos, 48, a novelist, married in 1993 and have four children. Mr Bezos founded Amazon in their Seattle garage in 1994 and turned it into a colossus that dominates online retail.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Amazon, which has a market capitalisation of some US$890 billion, said Mrs Bezos will control 4 per cent of the company's outstanding common stock. At Amazon's current share price that would be worth some US$35.6 billion.

According to Forbes magazine, the divorce settlement makes Mrs Bezos the third wealthiest woman in the world, after L'Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and Walmart's Ms Alice Walton.

Mr Bezos, who now owns 12 per cent of Amazon, remains the world's richest man and the largest shareholder in the company, with an estimated fortune of US$110 billion, Forbes said, ahead of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett.

The pair announced their separation in January and posted Twitter messages on Thursday revealing the divorce settlement.

 
 
 

"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," Mrs Bezos wrote.

"Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies," she said.

"Excited about my own plans. Grateful for the past as I look forward to what comes next."

Mr Bezos, in a Twitter message of his own, said his wife had been "an extraordinary partner, ally, and mother". "She is resourceful and brilliant and loving, and as our futures unroll, I know I'll always be learning from her," he wrote.

"I'm grateful for her support and for her kindness in this process and am very much looking forward to our new relationship as friends and co-parents," he added.

Mr Bezos has largely kept his personal life private during his years steering Amazon. But it was thrust into the spotlight with the announcement in January that he and his wife were divorcing after 25 years of marriage and the revelation by the National Enquirer that he had been having an affair with a former news anchor, Ms Lauren Sanchez.

When the National Enquirer, controlled by US President Donald Trump's ally, Mr David Pecker, threatened to release lurid, intimate pictures of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez, Mr Bezos fought back by releasing publicly the details of his exchanges. "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," he wrote in a blog post.

A lawyer for the National Enquirer denied that the supermarket tabloid had tried to extort and blackmail the Amazon founder. Mr Trump has been a frequent critic of the Post, which Mr Bezos acquired in 2013, claiming that the newspaper is biased against him.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'Amazon's Bezos, wife reach biggest divorce deal in history'. Print Edition | Subscribe