The prospect of a scorched-earth divorce battle between Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos might drastically change the stability of energy inside Amazon.
If the world’s richest soon-to-be-ex-couple can’t attain an amicable settlement, the query of easy methods to divide the retail behemoth is perhaps left to the discretion of a decide in Washington state, the place the prevailing “community property” regulation may be very totally different from the “equitable distribution” in locations like New York.
Under the latter, a decide has discretion to think about circumstances in figuring out how property acquired throughout the marriage is cut up. Here, judges can take into account the desirability of retaining enterprise pursuits intact — and out of the fingers of a divorcing partner.
Washington’s regulation, nonetheless, says that property acquired throughout marriage are equally owned. Therefore, MacKenzie Bezos is as a lot the world’s wealthiest girl as her husband is its richest man.
While Washington divorce judges have some discretion, current precedent says that “in a long-term marriage of 25 years or more, the trial court’s objective is to place the parties in roughly equal financial positions for the rest of their lives.”
This makes it extremely unlikely that Jeff Bezos will be capable of retain the 16 p.c of Amazon inventory he owns as a result of there aren’t any different property that might put MacKenzie in an equal place. The worth of their 5 properties is of minimal worth in comparison with the Amazon inventory.
If MacKenzie will get half of that inventory as a result of it was all acquired throughout their 25-year marriage, she would have as a lot management of the firm as Jeff. Taken a step additional, she may type an alliance with one other main shareholder and be the one calling the photographs.
Just take a look at what occurred to on line casino mogul Steve Wynn. When spouse Elaine divorced him in 2010, they wrestled for management of Wynn Resorts inventory. The battle finally led to a restructuring of the board largely beneath her management.
In brief, MacKenzie is now holding all the cards.
Peter Bronstein is a distinguished Manhattan divorce lawyer who has represented billionaire actual property magnate Harry Macklowe and filmmaker Guy Ritchie.