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Amazon founder's ex-wife to give half her fortune to charity

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NEW YORK: Ms MacKenzie Bezos, 49, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 55, has promised to donate half her fortune to charity, joining the ranks of the world's ultra-wealthy philanthropists, the Giving Pledge announced on Tuesday.

The charitable organisation, founded in 2010 by Mr Warren Buffett and Mr Bill Gates, listed Ms Bezos among 19 new signatories of the pledge.

She became one of the world's wealthiest individuals in April, gaining a net worth estimated at US$36 billion (S$50 billion) after finalising the terms of her divorce with the world's richest man.

"In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share," Ms Bezos said in a letter announcing that she was joining the pledge.

"My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty."

As part of the couple's divorce, Ms Bezos is to retain 25 per cent of the Amazon shares they had held jointly, equal to about 4 per cent of the company, but will surrender her voting rights.

More than 200 people have taken the Giving Pledge, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, investor Bill Ackman, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and investor Robert F. Smith, who made waves this month by announcing he would pay off the student loans of an entire graduating class at the Morehouse College in Georgia.

Mr Bezos, whose fortune is estimated at well over US$100 billion, has not taken the pledge but in September announced a US$2 billion investment fund to support homeless families and education in poor communities. - AFP