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MacKenzie Bezos, novelist, philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has decreased her stake in American online retail company, Amazon by about US$370 million, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on December 31, 2019.
The drop in Bezos’ stake was filed under her ex-husband and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ name. After the sale, MacKenzie Bezos’ stake in the company stands at 19.5 million shares.
Voting control and divorce settlement
Jeff Bezos has the sole voting control of his ex-wife’s stake which she had received as part of their divorce settlement in 2019. Jeff Bezos had retained voting control of his entire US$143-billion stake in the company after the divorce. This had been done to remove uncertainty over who has control of the online tech giant.
MacKenzie Bezos had received 19.7 million shares, or 4% of Amazon’s outstanding shares in the settlement, making it the most expensive divorce settlement in the world. Prior to the divorce, MacKenzie Bezos owned 8.8 million shares in the online retail company – equivalent to about US$150 billion.
Bezos became the world’s third-wealthiest woman in 2019 following her divorce from Jeff Bezos – who is the richest person in the world. The wealthiest woman alive is L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers who is worth US$53.7. Alice Walton, daughter of the Walmart founder, comes in second with a fortune worth US$50.4 billion.
The Giving Pledge
In May 2019, MacKenzie Bezos signed the Giving Pledge, a pledge founded by billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010. The project includes 40 of America’s wealthiest people committed to donating the majority of their wealth to those in need – either during their lifetimes or in their wills.
MacKenzie Bezos has pledged to give away at least half of her wealth to unnamed charitable causes.
The campaign has 204 signatories so far, mostly from billionaires from 22 countries with pledges of over US$500 billion. Tesla founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, signed the pledge in 2012, refusing his $56,000 minimum salary from his company each year. So far, he has donated billions of US dollars to causes related to science and engineering education, pediatric health and renewable energy.
Jeff Bezos reportedly has yet to sign the pledge.