Wednesday 16 January 2019

World's richest man Bezos and wife to split in $137bn divorce

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie have split. Photo: REUTERS
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie have split. Photo: REUTERS

Jamie Harris and Subrat Patnaik

The world's richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is divorcing his wife of 25 years in what could result in the biggest divorce settlement ever seen.

Mr Bezos, who is estimated to be worth a massive $137bn (€118bn), announced on Twitter that he and his wife MacKenzie were divorcing, although they would remain "cherished friends".

They live in Washington State in the US where, unless there is a pre-nuptial agreement, a divorcing couple's assets are split 50/50.

The couple met in New York in the early 1990s when Mr Bezos, then a hedge fund manager, interviewed Ms Bezos for a job.

They married six months later and moved to Seattle so that he could launch the online bookseller that grew into one of the world's largest retailers.

Ms Bezos, a Princeton graduate who is now a novelist, did accounting for Amazon for its first year after it was founded in 1994. The company recently took Microsoft's spot as the most valuable US company.

The couple have four children together, ranging in ages from 13 to 18.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Mr Bezos wrote: "As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.

"We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other.

"If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.

"We've had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures.

"Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends."

The couple were last photographed in public together at the funeral service of Senator John McCain in the US capital, when Ms Bezos was seen linking arms with her husband as they walked into Washington Cathedral.

Speaking at an event in Berlin last April, Mr Bezos said Mrs Bezos's support was instrumental when he founded Amazon in 1994.

"When you have loving and supportive people in your life, like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks," he said at the event.

Last year, the pair launched the Bezos Day One Fund, offering a $2bn (€1.73bn) fund to help homeless families and build pre-schools in low-income neighbourhoods.

They also donated $33m (€28.6m) to fund college scholarships for high schools students, under an Obama-era programme protecting young immigrants brought to the US illegally by their parents.

Amazon shares were up 0.2pc in midday trading yesterday. The divorce should have no material impact on the company and its shares, said analysts.

It is unlikely that many details of the divorce will become public, said New York lawyer Bernard Clair, who is representing Judith Giuliani in her divorce from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"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," he said.

Irish Independent

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