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Jeff Bezos keeps Amazon voting power in divorce settlement

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Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will retain voting control of his entire $143 billion stake in the company under a divorce settlement with his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, who will own 25 percent of those shares, the couple said on Thursday, removing uncertainty over control of the online retailer.

The world’s richest couple had announced their impending divorce in a joint Twitter statement in January, causing some to worry that Jeff Bezos could wind up with less Amazon voting power or that he or MacKenzie would liquidate large positions.

 

“It takes the issue off the table, with less turbulence than you might have expected,” said an investor, whose company owns several million dollars worth of Amazon shares but who asked for anonymity because of a firm policy.

MacKenzie Bezos will wind up with a stake in Amazon that is worth roughly $36 billion. Her shares represent a 4 percent stake in Amazon, according to a regulatory filing by the company. The Amazon shares will make her the world’s third-richest woman while Jeff Bezos will remain the world’s richest person, according to Forbes.

The couple, who tweeted separately on Thursday, disclosed that under their settlement MacKenzie will give up her interests in the Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos bought in 2013 and which has been a frequent target of criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, and the rocket company Blue Origin he founded in 2000.

“Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff,” MacKenzie Bezos said in her tweet outlining the agreement, the first and only post from an account created this month.

The two did not provide any further financial details about the settlement.

“INFLUENCE WOULD BE THE SAME”

Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, said in the filing that 4 percent of its outstanding shares would be registered in MacKenzie Bezos’ name after court approval of the divorce, which is expected to occur in about 90 days.

The petition for divorce was filed in Washington state, a person familiar with the matter said.

Jeff Bezos, whom Amazon listed in its most recent proxy statement as its single largest shareholder with a 16.3 percent stake, will keep sole voting authority over the shares unless MacKenzie donates them to a nonprofit or sells them in the open market.

 

Jeff Bezos, 55, is seen as essential to Amazon’s meteoric growth and stock price rise since he founded the company as an online bookseller in 1994. He has credited MacKenzie, 48, for her support when he uprooted the young couple to Seattle from New York to launch Amazon.

“When I think about Amazon, and the influence Bezos has on Amazon, I would argue his influence would be the same if he had 51 percent shares outstanding or 1 percent. I think his influence is dictated by his vision for Amazon,” D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte said.

MacKenzie Bezos’ stake in Amazon is worth more than the market values of nearly 70 percent of the components of the S&P 500.

The settlement suggests that Amazon will be spared the kind of boardroom battle that has plagued other companies whose owners are dealing with family rifts, even though the divorce had jolted the once-private Bezos couple into the public spotlight.

Jeff Bezos re-tweeted MacKenzie’s statement and added in a separate post that he was grateful “for her support and for her kindness in this process.”

Liat Sadler, a San Francisco matrimonial lawyer, said the settlement should put investors at ease.

“They’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes to make their breakup as amicable as it seems,” she said. Still, Sadler added, “Without knowing what cash she received, I have no idea how favorable it was to him or not.”

The day the couple announced their separation on Twitter, the National Enquirer promised to reveal an affair by Jeff Bezos that it claimed had ended their marriage, contrary to the couple’s statement that they were on a “long period of loving exploration and trial separation.”

The U.S. tabloid then published alleged photos and intimate text messages between Bezos and his new partner, former television news anchor Lauren Sanchez.

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Northern Ireland: Police arrest two in connection with the murder of a journalist

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Source: Reuters

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killing of Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee during a riot in Londonderry on Thursday, police said, as politicians in the divided British region united to condemn the attack.

McKee, an award-winning 29-year-old journalist who was writing a book on the disappearance of young people during decades of violence in Northern Ireland, was shot dead as she watched Irish nationalist youths attack police following a raid.

“Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder,” the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

Northern Ireland’s political parties, which are broadly split between Irish nationalists aspiring to unite the British region with Ireland and unionists who want it to remain British, united to condemn the attack.

In a joint statement, six parties said they were “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime.”

Hundreds gathered in cities across Northern Ireland on Friday to hold vigils for McKee, who was also known as an activist for lesbian and gay rights.

Politicians around the world condemned the attack, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton saying he was “heartbroken.”

“We cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress,” Clinton, a key player in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace accord, said on Twitter.

The 1998 deal largely ended three decades of violence in the region, in which over 3,600 died, but several smaller militant groups remain active and launch occasional attacks.

Police said they believed the shooting was likely carried out by the small New IRA group of “dissident” Irish nationalist militants opposed to the Good Friday deal. The group was blamed by police for planting a car bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have also warned that Britain’s plans to leave the European Union could also undermine the peace deal and that any return of restrictive infrastructure along the Irish-Northern Irish border would become targets for militants.

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the peace accord had to be preserved.

“The tragic murder of Lyra McKee is a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland,” he said.“SENSELESS”

Police said Thursday’s rioting began after a raid aimed at preventing attacks during Easter weekend.

Saoradh, a political party with links to dissident militants, said in a statement on Friday that it understood McKee was killed accidentally by a “Republican volunteer.

McKee was watching with a crowd of bystanders as local youths attacked police with petrol bombs and set cars on fire, video footage showed. Police said McKee was hit when a gunman opened fire in the direction of police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday described the attack as “shocking and truly senseless.”

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Samsung gets reports of Galaxy Fold screen problems, raising specter of Note 7 fiasco

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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it has received “a few” reports of damage to the displays of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone, raising the prospect of a less-then-smooth entry for the splashy $1,980 handset.

Source – Reuters

The Galaxy Fold, on sale from April 26 in the United States, resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm). The design, matched by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s Mate X, was hailed as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc’s iPhone in 2007.

Yet ahead of the launch, journalists supplied with review samples reported malfunctions after only a day or two of use.

“We will thoroughly inspect these units … to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement.

The malfunctions raised the specter of Samsung’s doomed Galaxy Note 7 phone three years ago. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 resulted in some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the model.

The recall wiped out nearly all profit of Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.

Reporting by Angela Moon in NEW YORK and Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in SEOUL, Editing by Leslie Adler and Christopher Cushing

With the Fold, analysts said malfunctions from the first batch of a test model were of little surprise. Moreover, the handset’s in-folding design is likely to be less durable than Huawei’s out-folding approach, they said.

“In-folding is more difficult to make than out-folding, as it adds higher pressure to screens, which people have worried about,” said analyst Park Sung-soon at BNK Securities.

DO NOT REMOVE

Technology journalists took to Twitter on Wednesday to report instances of the screen either cracking or flickering.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

Gurman removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterwards, according to his tweets.

A wrapper around the device featured “ATTENTION” in uppercase and warned not remove the layer, showed a tweet from another sample recipient.

Samsung on Thursday said removing the protective layer might result in damage, and that it would clearly inform customers of the issue.

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen. Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer an explanation for the problem.

“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the protective layer.

CNBC.com tech editor Steve Kovach tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.

HIGH DEMAND

Samsung has said it plans to make at least 1 million Fold handsets, versus the total 300 million phones it produces annually. It has closed Fold pre-orders due to “high demand”.

On Thursday, the firm told Reuters there was no change to its release schedule following the malfunction reports.

“I think as time goes on its yield rate will improve, and foldables that customers have in hand will be much better,” said analyst Lee Kyu-ha at NH Investment & Securities. “But I don’t know if Samsung can completely fix the problem about screens.”

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