A petition for the divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie was filed Thursday, with Amazon saying in a SEC filing that as part of the deal MacKenzie will receive about 4% of the company, or 25% of the couple’s total stock.
The online giant’s current market cap today is about $892 billion, meaning MacKenzie’s shares in the company will be worth around $36 billion as of today’s trading, instantly making her one of the richest women in the world.
As part of the agreement, Bezos will have voting control of the shares, and she will give him her stakes in the Washington Post and their rocket company Blue Origin.
According to the 8-K filing Thursday, the divorce decree is “expected to be issued in approximately 90 days.” Jeff Bezos “will continue to exercise sole voting authority over the Shares (together with any additional shares issued to Ms. Bezos in connection with any stock split, stock dividend, recapitalization, reorganization, or the like) pursuant to a voting agreement and proxy between Mr. and Ms. Bezos.”
The filing added that “Shares that Ms. Bezos sells in the open market or that Ms. Bezos contributes to an organization that qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code with the belief that such organization intends to sell such Shares in the open market will cease to be subject to the voting agreement and proxy.”
The Bezoses in January announced plans to divorce after 25 years of marriage ahead of a National Enquirer report that he was having an affair. The news had put the fortune of the world’s richest man and the ownership structure of an era-defining, global powerhouse in a state of flux.
Previous divorces involving high-net-worth figures have ended up having a material impact on companies — think Elaine Wynn and casino magnate Steve Wynn, and former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie. And of course Hollywood is rife with tales of studio moguls and top-tier stars brought low by marriage breakups, though all of the above occupied a much lower financial bracket than that of Amazon’s first couple.
As for Amazon, Wall Street hasn’t appeared to be too flummoxed. In trading today, Amazon shares are down fractionally at 1,818, nearer its 52-week high than 52-week low. The company’s stock has climbed nearly 10% since the revelation of the divorce.
The net worth of Jeff Bezos has been estimated at $137 billion, mostly derived from his 16% ownership stake in Amazon. He drafted the company’s original business plan on a laptop while driving cross-country in the early 1990s to Seattle with MacKenzie at the wheel. The couple originally met as colleagues at New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw. She also worked at Amazon in its early days before focusing on raising their four children, who are all now in their teens, and then writing two novels.
In September, the Bezoses launched the Day One Fund, whose initial $2 billion endowment was earmarked to help fund homeless relief programs and early childhood education. They also gave $10 million to a super PAC supporting military veterans trying to get elected to Congress.
Aside from Amazon, Bezos founded rocket company Blue Origin and bought the Washington Post for $250 million earlier this decade. The couple also have several homes, including one in Beverly Hills.