MacKenzie Bezos to give away half of fortune

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48436622

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MacKenzie Bezos, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, has promised to give half her fortune to charity.

She joins billionaires such as investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates in the Giving Pledge.

The pledge was started by Mr Buffett and Mr Gates and calls for the richest to give away half or more of their wealth.

Ms Bezos is estimated to be worth almost $37bn (£29bn). She and Mr Bezos divorced earlier this year.

She acquired 4% of the company in the settlement.

“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she said in a statement. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care.”

The Giving Pledge has been signed by 204 individuals, couples and families from 23 countries.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CNN founder Ted Turner and entertainment executive Barry Diller were among the initial signatories in 2010.

Pledges this year have come from hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones; Jeremy Grantham, who is co-founder of US investment firm GMO; and Emirati businessman Sheikh Mohammed bin Musallam bin Ham Al Ameri.

Public promise

The pledge is a public promise rather than a legal contract, according to its website, which says: “The goal is to talk about giving in an open way and create an atmosphere that can draw more people into philanthropy.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan joined the list in 2015, saying they will give away 99% of their shares in the company to good causes.

He said they were donating their fortune to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to make the world a better place for their daughter Max to grow up in. The shares, worth more than £60bn, will not be donated to charity immediately, but over the course of the couple’s lives.

Mr Bezos is not one of the signatories to the Giving Pledge. Last year, he put $2bn into a charitable fund he established to help the homeless and set up a new network of schools.

The move attracted a backlash from some quarters as Mr Bezos has been accused of underpaying his staff.

He is estimated by Bloomberg to be worth $114bn.

Other top-10 billionaires who have not joined the pledge are Google co-founder Larry Page, Bernard Arnault, head of French luxury goods firm LVMH, and Mexican telecoms chief Carlos Slim.

British pledgers include Lord Michael Ashcroft, Sir Richard Branson, Phones 4u founder John Caudwell, Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, property developer Sir Tom Hunter, Lord David Sainsbury and oil businessman Sir Ian Wood.