Bezos has credited his wife MacKenzie for her support when he uprooted the young couple from New York to Seattle so he could launch Amazon, the online bookseller, that grew into one of the world's largest retailers.
Amazon.com Inc founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, and wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the couple said on Twitter on Wednesday.
January 9, 2019
Bezos, 54, has a fortune that has soared as high as $160 billion thanks to his stake in Amazon, which again became Wall Street's most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft Inc.
Bezos has credited MacKenzie, 48, for her support when he uprooted the young couple from New York to Seattle so he could launch the online bookseller that grew into one of the world's largest retailers. MacKenzie, a Princeton graduate who is now a novelist, did accounting for Amazon for its first year after it was founded in 1994.
The couple decided to divorce after a long period of "loving exploration" and trial separation, and expect to continue as partners in ventures and projects, according to the joint statement.
Amazon shares were up 0.2 percent in midday trading on Wednesday. The divorce should have no material impact on the company and its shares, said Thomas Forte, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.
According to Refinitiv Eikon data, MacKenzie does not hold any Amazon shares directly. Bezos has a 16.1 percent stake in the company worth about $130 billion.
Liat Sadler, a San Francisco matrimonial lawyer, noted that spouses owe a fiduciary duty to one another.
“They have duties not to waste or devalue marital resources, and to keep the value of marital property as high as possible,” she said. “I don't think there is an issue of concern for shareholders as to what will happen to Amazon because of the divorce."
Sadler said the main options facing the couple regarding Amazon stock were for Bezos to buy out his wife or for MacKenzie to retain shares.
"If she trusts that he would manage Amazon well, either he should pay her for her share of the stock, or they could enter a more complicated agreement where she keeps stock and he keeps voting rights,” she said.
It is unlikely that many details of the divorce will become public, New York lawyer Bernard Clair, who is representing Judith Giuliani in her divorce from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said. “These two have been separated for a not insignificant time, and I would assume ... they would have used the time to reach a private, confidential agreement,” Clair said.
Reuters was unable to determine any further financial details of the planned divorce. Amazon did not immediately return requests for comment about the status of the Bezos ownership stake or what impact the divorce might have on the company.
MacKenzie met her husband when interviewing for a job at a New York hedge fund, according to a 2013 profile in Vogue. The two were engaged after three months of dating and married three months after that, according to the magazine. The pair have four children.