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Three new Cox billionaires minted as matriarch gives away wealth

[BOSTON] The son and two daughters of 95-year-old Anne Beau Cox Chambers are among the world's 400 richest people after she distributed her stake in closely held Cox Enterprises to her heirs.

James Cox Chambers, 58, Katharine Anne Johnson Rayner, 70, and Margaretta Johnson Taylor, 73, share 49 per cent of the Atlanta-based company and have individual fortunes valued at US$5.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. None of the three siblings have appeared on an international wealth ranking.

Their mother, long listed among the world's wealthiest women, won approval from a state court two years ago to dissolve the trust that held her shares, according to documents filed with Superior Court in Fulton County, Georgia. Details of the distribution were reported in January by Atlanta Business Chronicle, 17 months after Bloomberg first reported the dissolution.

"While we have a longstanding policy of not commenting on family matters, I can tell you that the filing to dissolve the trust was related solely to the Cox family's goal of maintaining future ownership and control of Cox Enterprises," said Elizabeth Olmstead, a Cox spokesperson, in a Nov 2 e-mail.

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Cox Enterprises, a media conglomerate that had US$17.1 billion of revenue in 2014 according to its website, is the third-largest cable TV provider in the US and owns Kelley Blue Book, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper and dozens of television and radio properties.

The Bloomberg index values the company at US$31.1 billion. It calculates Cox Communications, Cox Media Group and Manheim, a vehicle marketing company, by comparing the segment revenue reported on the Cox website and the enterprise value-to-Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of publicly traded peer companies for each.

Cox also owns 98 per cent of AutoTrader, which is valued using the price it paid to purchase a 25 per cent stake from Providence Equity Partners in January 2014. It bought publicly traded Dealertrack Technologies, Inc in October 2015, which is valued at the acquisition cost.

Before the dissolution, Anne Chambers owned 49.4 per cent of the business through an income trust established by her father James M Cox, who founded the company as a newspaper business in 1898 and was a 1920 presidential candidate. Ms Chambers asked the court to distribute her shares, saying she doesn't need the trust because she gives all its income to charity.

Ms Olmstead of Cox Enterprises, in which each sibling owns more than a 16 per cent stake, said the individual family members declined to comment. Information about them in publicly available documents is limited.

Margaretta Taylor is a philanthropist and lives in New York, according to a 2010 news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society about a US$5 million donation she made to the Bronx Zoo. Katharine Rayner has a home in East Hampton, New York, where in July a court dismissed a complaint that she and fellow property owners filed in a dispute over a fence built on public-access property. James Chambers is an organic farmer and filmmaker, according to a 2013 Bard College alumni magazine.

Cox Chambers also gave some of her shares back to the company, about five per cent to 32 different charities, and less than one per cent directly to her grandchildren. Two other family members, James C Kennedy, Cox Chairman, and Blair Parry-Okeden, each own almost 25 per cent of Cox and have fortunes valued at US$7.9 billion each, according to the Bloomberg index. They are the two children of Anne's sister Barbara, who died in 2007.

Ms Olmstead said the two sides of the family continue to own equal stakes of Cox Enterprises resulting from a series of internal share transactions that occurred in tandem with the matriarch's share distribution, including buying back the charitable shares.

As part of giving away her fortune, Ms Chambers, a former ambassador to Belgium, stepped down from Cox Enterprises's three-person family voting trust. She named her grandson Alexander C Taylor, the 40-year-old son of Margaretta and executive vice president at Cox, in her place, according to a document filed with the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses Cox's television and radio properties. Kennedy and Jimmy W Hayes, a non-family retired executive, hold the other two board seats.