Times caption: Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos built Amazon (GETTY IMAGES)
36 BILLION dollars seems a reasonable price for a Bond villain to divorce his attractive wife, who I’m guessing wildly will demand a pre-nup be signed before she next marries. A piece in today’s Times:
It may be the most expensive divorce settlement in history but Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife has walked away with only half of what she was entitled to and left him with 75 per cent of the couple’s combined stock in Amazon.
It will make Ms Bezos, 48, the third richest woman after Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, 65, and Alice Walton, 69, respective heiresses of the L’Oréal and Walmart fortunes. She will also be Amazon’s third biggest shareholder, with about 4 per cent of all its shares. Mr Bezos, 55, holds his place as the world’s richest man, with his remaining 12 per cent stake in all Amazon shares worth about $107.5 billion.
The couple made separate statements on Twitter last night saying that they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage and looked forward to the next phase as “friends and co-parents” to their four children.
In January the couple announced that they were getting a divorce shortly before the National Enquirer magazine revealed that Mr Bezos had been having an affair with Lauren Sánchez, 49, a TV presenter turned helicopter pilot. Intimate text messages between Mr Bezos and Ms Sánchez were allegedly leaked by her brother, Michael Sanchez.
Ms Bezos, an award-winning novelist, said that she was happy to be giving her ex-husband three quarters of their stock in Amazon along with voting control of all her shares. She also left him with all her interests in The Washington Post, which Mr Bezos bought for $250 million in 2013, and in Blue Origin, Mr Bezos’s space exploration company. She was “excited about my own plans” and “grateful for the past as I look forward to what comes next”.
Mr Bezos was considerably more effusive in praise for his ex-wife. “In all our work together, MacKenzie’s abilities have been on full display,” he said. “She has 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.”
There was no mention of how the couple would divide their other investments or their sprawling property portfolio of six homes, which includes the largest house in Washington.
The settlement is likely to please Amazon investors, who had been concerned that the divorce would cause an issue over who had voting power at the company. Divorce law experts said that the situation was unprecedented as the couple had been together before Amazon was founded and before either had such large sums of money.
While Ms Bezos has walked away with only half of what she could have taken, it was ten times more than what is now the second most expensive divorce settlement in history. That was between the art dealer Alec Wildenstein and his wife of 21 years, Jocelyn, in 1999. Ms Wildenstein was awarded a total of $3.8 billion.
The Bezoses met when he was 28 and she was 22, and both were working at a tech-focused hedge fund firm called DE Shaw. They married in 1994 and Ms Bezos is credited with helping her husband to get Amazon off the ground. She famously drove her husband from their home and well-paid jobs in New York to Seattle as Mr Bezos typed out a business plan for what would become Amazon. She was reported to have been a key player in Amazon’s early years.
Amazon was founded in 1996 as an online bookseller. It has become the biggest disruptor to bricks and mortar retailing in existence, taking half of all online retail sales in America and nearly 40 per cent in the UK. It bought the Whole Foods supermarket chain in 2017 boosting its workforce to more than 540,000.
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