Ama­zon CEO Be­zos, wife of 25 years to di­vorce

An­a­lysts: Split un­likely to affect re­tail gi­ant

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Mike Snider

Ama­zon CEO and founder Jeff Be­zos says that he and his wife, MacKen­zie, are di­vorc­ing af­ter 25 years of mar­riage.

“We want to make peo­ple aware of a de­vel­op­ment in our lives,” the cou­ple said in a post on Be­zos’ Twit­ter ac­count Wed­nes­day. “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.”

The care­fully worded an­nounce­ment sug­gests a cor­dial di­vorce and one that is un­likely to dis­rupt or affect Ama­zon, cur­rently the world’s most valu­able com­pany, at $810 bil­lion just ahead of Mi­crosoft ($789 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to S&P Global Mar­ket In­tel­li­gence.

The cou­ple met at man­age­ment investment firm D.E. Shaw in New York City and mar­ried in 1993, six months af­ter MacKen­zie asked him out to lunch, ac­cord­ing to a Busi­ness In­sider profile of their mar­riage.

A year later, they moved to Seat­tle to found Ama­zon, where she be­came an ac­coun­tant and one of the first em­ploy­ees for the then-on­line book­seller. Un­til five years ago, she dropped Be­zos off at work in their Honda af­ter they took their four kids to school.

Since then, Be­zos has be­come the world’s rich­est man, sup­plant­ing Mi­crosoft co-founder Bill Gates on Forbes’ an­nual list of the 400 rich­est Amer­i­cans three months ago, with his net worth ris­ing to $160 bil­lion, up from $81.5 bil­lion a year ago.

MacKen­zie Be­zos be­came a nov­el­ist, win­ning an Amer­i­can Book Award for her 2005 de­but novel “The Test­ing of Luther Al­bright.” Sub­se­quently, she re­leased the book “Traps” in 2013.

It’s un­clear whether the cou­ple had a prenup­tial agree­ment. But that is un­likely, says Stu­art Slot­nick, chair­man of the mat­ri­mo­nial de­part­ment of law firm Buchanan Inger­soll & Rooney in New York City.

“Peo­ple get prenup­tial agree­ments when they have as­sets to pro­tect,” Slot­nick said. “In this case, they had no real as­sets vis à vis Ama­zon be­cause when they got mar­ried Ama­zon did not ex­ist.”

That doesn’t mean the sep­a­rat­ing cou­ple have not come to an ar­range­ment, he says. In fact, the state­ment is­sued by is “devoid of emo­tion,” Slot­nick said, sug­gest­ing “they might al­ready have an agree­ment ... (and) be done es­sen­tially.”

What­ever the agree­ment, it’s un­likely to dis­rupt Ama­zon’s op­er­a­tions, as that would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to an am­i­ca­ble sep­a­ra­tion, he said. “There would be no rea­son that the com­pany would be affected by this di­vorce,” Slot­nick said.

Cri­sis man­age­ment ex­pert Juda En­gel­mayer said the split “will be about money, and it’s not go­ing to be about con­trol of the com­pany.”

“I’ve dealt with cor­po­rate di­vorces when there was vin­dic­tive­ness and bit­ter­ness in­volved. This doesn’t seem that way,” said En­gel­mayer, pres­i­dent of Her­aldPR, a New York pub­lic re­la­tions firm.

NINA PROMMER/EPA

Jeff and MacKen­zie Be­zos, shown in Fe­bru­ary 2017, have four chil­dren.

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