Jeff Bezos may sell up to 50 million Amazon shares in 12 months, filing shows

This could potentially make him the world’s richest person based on current share price

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is currently tied with Bernard Arnault, chairman of French luxury group LVMH, as the world's second richest person with a net worth of $185 billion. AP
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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to sell up to 50 million shares in the online retail and cloud services company over the next 12 months, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

That would be worth about $8.6 billion at the current share price of $171.8 a share.

This move could potentially put him within reach of becoming the world’s richest person.

He is currently tied with Bernard Arnault, chairman of French luxury group LVMH, as the world's second-richest person, with a net worth of $185 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Tesla founder Elon Musk is the world’s richest person, with a personal fortune worth $205 billion, according to the index.

Mr Bezos, 60, has not topped the billionaires’ ranking since 2021.

“On November 8, Mr Bezos adopted a trading plan to sell up to 50 million shares of Amazon common stock over a period ending on January 31, 2025, subject to certain conditions,” Amazon said in its latest annual report on Friday.

The filing about Mr Bezos’s share sale came after Amazon reported a significant surge in its fourth-quarter net profit and gave a strong guidance for the current quarter.

Its net profit increased to $10.6 billion in the fourth quarter compared with $300 million in the prior year period.

The Seattle-based company’s revenue during the October-December period increased 14 per cent on an annual basis to $170 billion, topping analysts' average estimate of $166.2 billion.

This was the 13th consecutive quarter with more than $100 billion in sales.

In its first-quarter sales guidance, Amazon expects revenue to hover between $138 billion and $143.5 billion.

Mr Bezos has added $7.7 billion to his net worth this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The gap between Mr Bezos and Mr Musk has been narrowing as Amazon and Tesla shares move in opposite directions.

Amazon has benefited from a rebound in tech shares that has sent US stock indexes to all-time highs, while Tesla has been plagued by a series of negative headlines.

Mr Musk’s wealth could also take a hit after a Delaware judge voided his $55 billion pay package this week. Tesla also faces tough competition from Chinese electric car manufacturers.

Mr Musk also dropped out of the exclusive $200 billion club just last week after shares in electric car maker Tesla plummeted 12 per cent on the back of the company’s warning that sales would decelerate this year.

His net worth has dropped by $23.6 billion this year, according to Bloomberg.

The billionaire owns about 13 per cent of Tesla stock after selling billions of dollars of the company’s shares in 2022 to help finance his Twitter acquisition.

Tesla’s stock price is a long way off its November 2021 peak of $407.36 – a time when Mr Musk’s net worth also hit its highest value of $338 billion, making him the world’s first member of the $300 billion club, albeit briefly.

Mr Musk has also been burning money on media platform X, formerly Twitter.

It has lost 71 per cent of its value since he bought it for $44 billion in October 2022, a loss of about $30 billion.

His personal wealth jumped $92 billion to $229 billion last year, according to Bloomberg, an increase of 67.2 per cent.

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Elon Musk's $56bn Tesla pay package struck down by judge

Amazon disclosed the planned stock sales of Mr Bezos, other board members and senior executives in its annual report, according to Reuters.

If Mr Bezos follows through with the plan, it would mark the first time he has sold Amazon stock since 2021, the report said.

He did buy a single share of the company in May, his first recorded purchase in records going back to 2002, though without explanation, it added.

Amazon shares had surged more than 80 per cent last year amid a broader rally in tech stocks and outperformed the benchmark S&P 500 index, according to Reuters.

Mr Bezos founded Amazon as a bookseller in 1994. He stepped down as its chief executive and took over as executive chairman in 2021.

He remains the company’s biggest shareholder, with 998 million shares, slightly less than 10 per cent of the total.

Amazon is expanding beyond online retail into cloud computing and digital streaming, while Mr Bezos is also investing $1 billion a year in reusable space rocket project Blue Origin.

His 2019 divorce from MacKenzie Scott is said to have cost him $38 billion, including 4 per cent of Amazon’s shares.

Updated: February 03, 2024, 9:25 AM