A $140bil­lion di­vorce... but in­sid­ers vow Be­zos won’t lose con­trol of Ama­zon

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - From Caro­line Gra­ham [email protected]­sun­day.ie

AMA­ZON bil­lion­aire Jeff Be­zos will re­tain con­trol of the on­line re­tail gi­ant de­spite the prospect of split­ting his $137bn in two when he and his wife di­vorce.

Sources close to the world’s rich­est man, who has a for­tune val­ued at $137bn, last night told the Mail on Sun­day that the fu­ture of Ama­zon, of which he owns 16%, is ‘safe’.

‘Peo­ple have been spec­u­lat­ing that be­cause of his di­vorce, his wife will get half his shares and that will put the fu­ture of the com­pany in jeop­ardy,’ a source close to 55-year-old Be­zos said.

‘But this was all worked out last year. Ama­zon is not in dan­ger. The di­vorce set­tle­ment is far fur­ther along than any­one knows.

‘Both Jeff and his wife are smart peo­ple. He is keep­ing con­trol of Ama­zon.’

Be­zos and MacKen­zie, his wife of 25 years, an­nounced on Twit­ter last week that they were part­ing ‘as cher­ished friends’ and di­vorc­ing ‘af­ter a long pe­riod of lov­ing ex­plo­ration and trial sepa­ra­tion’.

But within hours it emerged that Be­zos was in a re­la­tion­ship with Lau­ren Sanchez, a 49-year-old for­mer TV an­chor who split from her hus­band, the Hol­ly­wood tal­ent agent Pa­trick White­sell, last au­tumn.

The Be­zos di­vorce is likely to be the big­gest in his­tory. The cou­ple, who mar­ried in 1993 shortly be­fore he founded Ama­zon, are un­der­stood to have no pre-nup­tial agree­ment, en­ti­tling her to half of his for­tune.

The cou­ple have a string of prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing a $32m home in Wash­ing­ton State, a $25m home in Bev­erly Hills and a $23m con­verted mu­seum in Wash­ing­ton DC, along with 400,000 acres of land.

How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of his wealth lies in his Ama­zon shares and there were fears he might have to sell some of his stake, po­ten­tially af­fect­ing the value of the on­line gi­ant.

But the source said: ‘The deal is still be­ing worked out be­cause there are so many com­plex as­sets, but there is no dan­ger of him los­ing his ma­jor­ity stake in Ama­zon. That has been agreed.’

Mean­while, a close friend of Ms Sanchez in­sisted that she and Be­zos are ‘madly in love’ and plan to marry as soon as their re­spec­tive di­vorces are fi­nalised.

The Na­tional En­quirer last week claimed that Be­zos ‘cheated’ on his 46-year-old wife, with whom he has four chil­dren, by start­ing his re­la­tion­ship with Ms Sanchez be­fore they had for­mally split. They also pub­lished a se­ries of pas­sion­ate text mes­sages sent by the bil­lion­aire to Ms Sanchez.

But pals of the for­mer TV pre- sen­ter said the al­le­ga­tion was ‘to­tally un­fair and un­true’, adding: ‘Most of what has been writ­ten about Lau­ren and Jeff’s re­la­tion­ship is not true.

‘They both split from their re­spec­tive part­ners in the au­tumn. Their re­la­tion­ship did not start un­til their mar­riages had ended.

‘They knew each other be­fore and there were text mes­sages be­tween them, but text mes­sages do not mean an af­fair. There was noth­ing seedy about how this re­la­tion­ship started and there’s noth­ing sleazy about it now.’

An­other friend said that Mr White­sell and Ms Sanchez have a so-called ‘bird-nest­ing’ ar­range­ment with their chil­dren re­main­ing in the fam­ily home while par­ents take it in turns to live there.

In­sid­ers claimed Ms Sanchez, a for­mer host of the hit US shows So You Think You Can Dance? and Ex­tra, ‘fought’ to save her mar­riage to Mr White­sell, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of tal­ent agency Wil­liam Mor­ris En­deavor, which rep­re­sents stars in­clud­ing Matt Da­mon, Ben Af­fleck and Chris­tian Bale.

Mr and Mrs Be­zos, Ms Sanchez and Ama­zon did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

SPLIT: Be­zos with es­tranged wife MacKen­zie and, be­low, their as­sets in­clude four New York City apart­ments worth $13m, a $23m Wash­ing­ton mu­seum and a $25m Bev­erly Hills man­sion. Right: Lau­ren Sanchez

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