Hot Topics

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sells US$4b of stock in four days

Go to Imelda Cotton author's page
By Imelda Cotton - 
Amazon Jeff Bezos sale

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has sold US$4 billion worth of the company’s stock less than two weeks after announcing plans to dispose of as many as 50 million shares over the next year.

The total shares to be divested are worth around US$8.4b at current prices and will be brokered through Morgan Stanley by the end of January 2025.

This week’s sales were made in two lots of 12m shares over four trading days and signals the first time Mr Bezos has parted with Amazon stock since 2021.

Shares in Amazon have soared more than 50% over the past 12 months.

The rally has moved the company’s share price close to an all-time high, and pushed its market capitalisation to US$1.75 trillion.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced revenue of US$170b for the three months to end December, bolstered by “rampant consumer spending” despite high interest rates.

Planned move

While no reason has been given for the sale of Mr Bezos’ shares this week, it is believed to have coincided with a planned residential move from Washington State to Florida.

Mr Bezos announced the move last year, at which time he claimed it was so he could be closer to his parents and to rocket launches at Cape Canaveral by his space company Blue Origin.

But it also comes with a major tax perk — Florida has no state income tax or capital gains tax, while Washington introduced a 7% capital gains tax on the sale of stocks or bonds of more than US$250,000 in 2022.

As Mr Bezos has only ever bought a single share of Amazon, experts believe it is safe to assume he has owned the stock since the company was founded and therefore virtually all of its value would be considered capital gains.

By 2025, it is speculated that Mr Bezos’ tax savings from life in Miami would be enough to cover the cost of a US$500m superyacht he purchased last year.

Amazon ownership

Since Amazon went public in 1997, Mr Bezos has given away about US$4.7b worth of Amazon shares and sold US$32b worth of the company’s stock.

The transactions cut his ownership stake in the e-commerce giant from 42% to a current 9.4%.

In 2021, Mr Bezos stepped down from role of chief executive officer to focus on Blue Origin, which has become a rival company to billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

He is still Amazon’s chairman and its largest individual shareholder.

He is also one of the richest people in the world with an estimated fortune of more than US$190b.