Investors ask how the Bezos divorce will affect Amazon

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2019   •   1399

Amazon logo. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) shares seesawed on Thursday as investors questioned how the impending divorce of company founder Jeff Bezos would affect his control of the most valuable company on Wall Street and its ambitious expansion plans.

Bezos, whom Forbes lists as the world’s richest person, worth an estimated $136.2 billion, said via Twitter on Wednesday that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, will divorce. Amazon shares were down 0.5 percent in afternoon trading on Thursday, after gaining earlier in the session.

The split throws into question how the couple will split their fortune, which includes an approximately 16 percent ownership stake in Amazon’s roughly $811.4 billion market capitalization. Divorce laws in Washington state, where they live, hold that property acquired during a marriage is generally divided equally between spouses.

Most analysts and fund managers are largely sanguine and say the divorce will not lead to any significant change in the company’s leadership or its growth prospects.

Prominent short-seller Doug Kass, however, who runs hedge fund Seabreeze Partners, said he sold his stake in Amazon on news of the divorce. That was after initially buying a stake in late December and naming Amazon among his “best ideas list.”

“Is it premature to ask what happens to Amazon when Jeff Bezos chooses to turn over the day-to-day running of the company he founded?” he said. “His announced divorce gives me pause for thought.”

The couple has multiple residences across the country, so there is a possibility the divorce could be filed in a state where marital property is not presumed to be divided equally.

New York matrimonial lawyer Bernard Clair said in that case a judge would likely determine MacKenzie Bezos’ share of Amazon stock based on her contribution to her husband’s success, which could include helping him make important business decisions or raising their children so he could focus on work.

Any transfer of Jeff Bezos’ stock would be subject to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements. As an officer and director at the company, Bezos could be required to file an SEC Form 4 within two business days of any transfer, though former SEC lawyer Broc Romanek noted a provision of U.S. securities laws exempts share transfers made pursuant to a domestic relations order.

Even if Bezos were exempted from filing a Form 4, he would be required to update promptly the record of his Amazon holdings on file with the SEC if his position in the company changed by 1 percent or more, said D.C. securities lawyer Thomas Gorman. MacKenzie Bezos would also need to file a similar record if she received more than 5 percent of Amazon stock.

Peter Henning, a securities law professor at Wayne State University, noted that Amazon, unlike fellow tech giants Facebook Inc. (FB.O) and Google Inc (GOOGL.O), does not give its founder’s shares greater voting rights. If MacKenzie Bezos is given a large block of shares, she could have a big say at the company.

Gorman agreed. “She could wind up with some sort of control block, and get herself a directorship,” he said. “It depends on what she wants to do.”

Any effort to dilute MacKenzie Bezos’ voting rights by creating a separate class of shares would require a shareholder vote, said Gorman, though he added that he thought such a move unlikely.

“Nobody wants to run their divorce through a shareholder meeting,” he said.

Robert Bacarella, portfolio manager of the Monetta fund, said that while he is not changing his investment in Amazon, he expects other growth-focused portfolio managers may trim their stakes due to concerns about the divorce’s impact.

“This is such an over-owned company and this gives them an excuse to say ‘Maybe I’ll trim some back because it adds a new question mark’,” he said.

Bacarella, however, said he is not concerned because even if MacKenzie Bezos liquidated a stake that could be as high as 8 percent, there would be no fundamental reason behind the sale. Any impact would be short-term in nature.

“Unless you worry that he will get so distracted by the divorce that he cannot manage the company, this will be a non-event,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “He is given control of the company because shareholders like him and his vision, not because he has 50 percent of the stock.”

Thomas Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, said questions about the future of the company due to the divorce are legitimate due to Jeff Bezos’ outsized influence on its value. Should he leave the company for any reason, its shares would likely immediately fall more than 10 percent, he said.

“His influence on the company is as a significant as if he had super-voting shares because of his track record and the way he runs the company as if he owned the whole thing,” he said.

Reporting by David Randall and Jan Wolfe; editing by Anthony Lin and Dan Grebler

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Fishermen discover whale carcass in Amazon mangrove

Marje Pelayo   •   February 28, 2019

Source: Instituto Bicho D’agua

A group of fishermen spotted a humpback whale carcass just off Brazil’s Amazon on Friday (February 22).

Photos taken by Instituto Bicho D’Agua, a non-profit organisation for their work on social-environmental conservation, showed the whale carcass stranded in the mangroves with its belly facing upwards.

The young male carcass was found around 15 metres from Araruna beach in Marinha de Soure Extractive Reserve in the country’s state of Para.

In a statement by the NGO, it was believed that the whale had already died around five days before reaching the shore, and the high tide had pushed the whale deeper in the mangroves before it became fully trapped.

Samples were collected to help understand the fate of the whale. – REUTERS

Amazon joins $1 trillion club

admin   •   September 5, 2018

Amazon logo. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday joined Apple Inc. in the $1 trillion club, becoming the second member of the group after its stock price doubled in 15 months.

If the online retailer’s share price continues at its recent pace, it will be a matter of when not if, Amazon’s market valuation eclipses that of iPhone maker Apple, which reached $1 trillion on Aug. 2.

Apple took almost 38 years as a public company to achieve the trillion dollar milestone, while Amazon got there in 21 years. While Apple’s iPhone and other devices remain popular and its revenues are growing, it is not keeping up with Amazon’s blistering sales growth.

Amazon has impressed investors by successfully diversifying its business into virtually every corner of the retail industry, altering how consumers buy products and putting major pressure on many brick-and-mortar stores. It also provides video streaming services and bought upscale supermarket Whole Foods. And its cloud computing services for companies have become a major driver of earnings and revenue. — Reuters

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Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens

admin   •   January 23, 2018

Amazon.com will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday after more than a year of testing.

Amazon.com will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday after more than a year of testing.

The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back.

Cash registers and checkout lines become unnecessary as customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

For grocers, the store’s opening heralds another potential disruption at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer.

Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage. — Reuters

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