The world's richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (55) and his soon-to-be ex-wife MacKenzie (48) have agreed to a record-breaking divorce settlement of at least $35 billion.
MacKenzie will be awarded about 4% of the company, a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her the 3rd richest woman in the world, following Alice Walton, the heiress to the fortune of Walmart Inc. And Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the billionaire L'Oréal heiress from France who holds the first position.
Months after announcing their decision to separate, Jeff and MacKenzie took to Twitter to announce their divorce settlement, a closely watched matter of corporate governance that affects one of the world's largest and richest companies with a market capitalization of $890 billion. Both came out in support and solidarity with each other in the wake of the settlement. MacKenzie's tweet came first which is also incidentally her first and only tweet since she joined the platform this month. Her tweet was then re-tweeted by Jeff. She said, "grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage to Jeff with support from each other,"
Through her tweet, she has also declared that Jeff will be awarded all of the former couple's joint holding in The Washington Post and a space-flight company, Blue Origin, which has been one of Jeff's main passions. This is likely to remove the uncertainty over the extent of his continued control over Amazon - the company he founded in Seattle in 1994, a year after the couple married, and MacKenzie was one of its first employees. Jeff remains the CEO of the company and has the most stock of any shareholder.
"She has been n 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," Jeff tweeted shortly after MacKenzie's tweet.
They have not provided further financial details about the settlement or the custody terms of heir children. Their marriage lasted for 25 years, and they have four children. However, they had decided to part ways in January but a controversy that arose where a US tabloid magazine 'National Enquirer' published details, including private messages of an extra-marital affair of Jeff Bezos with former Fox TV host Lauren Sanchez, whom he is now reportedly in a relationship with. Jeff accused the publisher of the magazine, American Media Incorporated, of blackmail, but the publisher denies the claim.
MacKenzie is a successful novelist who has two books to her name, 'The Testing of Luther Albright' and 'Traps.' She was also taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison at Princeton University. Morrison once said, "One of the best students I've ever had in my creative-writing classes...really one of the best."
Jeff is worth at least $107 billion, based on his Amazon holdings alone. Forbes had estimated that his worth earlier in the year was $131 billion before the divorce controversy took place. In fact, the stock was slightly down for the day on Thursday, owing to the obvious change after the tweets, suggesting that investors expected a divorce settlement that left Bezos firmly in control. According to Forbes, he is still the world's richest man, followed by Bill Gates at the second position and Warren Buffet at the third.
Amazon regulatory filing said that the divorce should be roughly settled in 90 days. But others have had their concerns as well. Peter Waltzer, president of the American Academy of Matrimony Lawyers said that the announcement of dividing the assets would be a complex process considering that the bulk of a couple's wealth is tied up in one company. Earlier, in January, when US president Donald Trump heard the news, he tweeted
In January, this year, Amazon surpassed Microsoft as the largest company in terms of market value, and in September last year, Amazon became the second US public company to cross the $1 trillion valuation threshold after Apple.