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Bezoses' Divorce Terms Ease Concern Over Who Controls Amazon

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Bezoses' Divorce Terms Ease Concern Over Who Controls Amazon
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(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will retain 75 percent of his stock in the company following his divorce from MacKenzie Bezos, the couple announced Thursday on Twitter, eliminating any concern that the split would influence his control over one of the world’s most valuable businesses.

Bezos will continue to be the largest shareholder of the e-commerce giant valued at almost $900 billion as well as gain voting control of his former wife’s remaining shares. Bezos will also maintain ownership of the Washington Post and his space exploration company, Blue Origin LLC.

Amazon investors mostly shrugged off news in January of the couple’s divorce after 25 years of marriage. The statement Thursday confirms the company faces few complications, said RJ Hottovy, an analyst at Morningstar Inc.

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

“Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reach out to us in kindness,” MacKenzie Bezos wrote on Twitter. “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.”

MacKenzie Bezos retains 4 percent of Amazon, or about 19.7 million shares worth about $35.7 billion, the company said in a filing, making her the world’s fourth-richest woman, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Amazon shares dipped less than 1 percent at 1:38 p.m. in New York.

The Bezoses announced their divorce in January, not long before the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper published an expose that Jeff Bezos had been having a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor. The announcement sparked speculation about how their exceptional wealth, estimated at more than $130 billion, would be divided. Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person and will remain in that position after the divorce, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Bezos remains embroiled in a public relations feud with the National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., about how the company learned of his extramarital affair and obtained graphic photos he sent his lover. The tabloid said it learned of the affair from Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos’s girlfriend. Bezos security consultant Gavin De Becker last week accused Saudi Arabia of accessing the billionaire’s phone data.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos met in New York at D.E. Shaw. Jeff was the first person to interview MacKenzie for a role at the hedge fund and the pair ended up having offices next to each other, according to a 2013 interview with Vogue. They married in 1993 and a year later drove across the country to Seattle, where Jeff founded Amazon. They have four children.

MacKenzie, an author, played a significant role at the company in the early years, but her presence faded in later years. Most high-ranking employees saw her at social events the couple hosted at their Medina, Washington, home and elsewhere. They’d also be spotted at Lakeside, a Seattle private school, with their children. When Amazon showcased its new biospheres, the plant-filled architectural centerpiece of its Seattle headquarters, the couple toured the building with a horticulturist. MacKenzie also accompanied her husband to Hollywood events after Amazon began a concerted push into video and original programming.

--With assistance from Robin Ajello.

To contact the reporters on this story: Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.net;Matt Day in Seattle at mday63@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Molly Schuetz

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.