- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, said earlier this week they plan to divorce.
- Bezos is the world’s richest man, with a net worth of $137 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
- While billions hang in the balance for them, some experts say the divorce may not mean much for the average Amazon shareholder — unless the proceedings become something of a “distraction” and impact the company’s leadership.
- Watch Amazon trade live.
Billions of dollars are at stake for Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, who announced this week they have decided to divorce after 25 years of marriage. But when it comes to what the divorce means for the average shareholder of the world’s largest company, the proceedings probably won’t carry significant weight.
Kelly Frawley, partner in the matrimonial and family law department at New York-based law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, said she doesn’t think shareholders should expect anything out of the ordinary, particularly since it appears to be an amicable divorce so far.
“I think that makes a big difference, because sometimes you can have an angry spouse who might leak information to the press that wouldn’t be so favorable for Jeff, information about the company that could potentially harm the company and affect its value,” she said. “But here, where it’s amicable, I can’t imagine that would happen, and frankly, she would be hurting her own pocket, because why would she want to in any way do something to decrease the value of the shares?”
The divorce proceedings will likely occur in Washington state, where community-property law states the assets acquired during a marriage are typically split after in divorce. That could theoretically benefit MacKenzie as Jeff is already the company’s largest shareholder, and most of his $137 billion net worth is tied to the company, which was founded after their marriage. MacKenzie played a role in the company’s founding.
Amazon shares have moved relatively little since the pair announced their divorce on Twitter. The stock is up about 2% since the start of this week and nearly 10% in 2019.
Read more: MacKenzie Bezos deserves half of Jeff Bezos’ fortune because there would be no Amazon without her
The divorce proceedings will have no impact on shareholders due mostly to the company’s size, said Molly Kenny, the principal of the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny in Bellevue, Washington. While there could theoretically be some kind of shakeup at a smaller company where the leader is going through a divorce, given Amazon’s size and what’s at stake, it’s unlikely in this situation.
“He’s done a phenomenal job, and I don’t see that changing,” she said. “I can’t envision, at least in the way it’s unfolding, that she would take on a greater role.
“That’s what usually happens with a smaller company. But a publicly traded company is in a different position, and could a company get rocked by a personal scandal? Sure. But that’s a personal scandal issue, not related to the divorce.”
Read more: The last time a billionaire CEO got divorced without a prenup he hand wrote a check for $974,790,317.77
Some analysts on Wall Street who cover the stock say there’s little shareholders should worry about — unless the major life event turns into a business distraction.
“Unless you worry that he will get so distracted by the divorce that he cannot manage the company, this will be a non-event,” Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, told Reuters on Thursday.
Others echo that sentiment. Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at New York-based Pivotal Research Group, initiated coverage on Amazon shares earlier this week — prior to the Bezoses’ announcement — with a “buy” recommendation, largely due to his optimistic view on the company’s advertising segment.
Wieser told Business Insider’s Troy Wolverton that he doesn’t see the impending divorce as a shareholder concern.
“I’m not aware of any reason why anyone should assume there’s any meaningful risk of any meaningful problem,” he said.