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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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BMW and Tencent to team-up in developing self-driving cars

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(Reuters) – German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help develop self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.

The computing center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide cars with data-crunching capabilities to help them drive semi-autonomously and, eventually, autonomously.

The two companies did not disclose the investment in the center. Sources familiar with the deal said the center will be built in the eastern city of Tianjin.

The establishment of the center “will support BMW’s autonomous driving development and innovation in China,” Jochen Goller, head of BMW’s China operations, said in a statement.

“BMW can, therefore, develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions in China.”

BMW said the new computing center will leverage Tencent’s cloud computing and big data, and provide the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars.

The Munich-headquartered automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous, or L3 classification, cars in China in 2021 which would need massive computing power to analyze real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions.

Driverless cars need sophisticated data-crunching capabilities as they rely on so-called artificial-intelligence, or neuro-network technology, to help them “learn” from experience and could eventually drive themselves without human intervention.

BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich.

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Costa Rica man pictured kissing crocodiles

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Source: Reuters – A man kisses a crocodile for a boat trip of tourists in Costa Rica.

Juan Cerdas said it is one of his “hobbies” to feed and kiss the creatures for tourists on the ‘crocodile river tour’ that sails the Tarcoles River.

The river, in the province of Puntarenas, has one of the highest crocodile populations in the world.

Many of them are American crocodiles, who are typically found in Florida and are one of the only species that can walk on four legs.

They can grow up to 17 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds.

Don’t try this at home – Costa Rican Juan Cerdas feeds the local crocs (Image: REUTERS)
Crocodilians are surprisingly fast – especially in water – so stay as far away as possible (Image: REUTERS)

But Juan said they are “not as aggressive as they would have us believe”.

The river has become a huge tourist attraction in recent years.

Tourists flock there to visit a bridge over the Tárcoles River which has become known as “puente de cocodrilo,” or “crocodile bridge.”

Underneath it crocodiles sunbathe in the afternoon sun.

Juan said crocs are “not as aggressive as they would have us believe” (Image: REUTERS)

Meanwhile the Mirror recently reported on horrific scenes of animal cruelty as hundreds of  crocodiles have been beaten to  death  by a mob of angry villagers after a local was apparently eaten by one of the reptiles.

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