Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen: Jennifer Szymaszek/AP
Gary Susman
January 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Now that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are 18, they’ve decided they’re old enough — to run their billion-dollar business empire by themselves, that is. Reuters reports that the twin tycoons have bought out Robert Thorne, the 50-year-old attorney who was their business partner in Dualstar, the firm that distributes the sisters’ line of books, CDs, videos, dolls, and fashion items. ”The decision was to respect their desire to take the helm perhaps a few years earlier than I had anticipated,” Thorne told Reuters. ”But I didn’t want to stand in their way provided that I was taken care of, as I was handsomely.” (The former CEO declined to say just how handsomely, or what he’ll charge the Olsens while he stays on for a few months as a consultant.) For their part, the two New York University students didn’t say how they’d manage to squeeze their duties as heads of a billion-dollar corporation into their college schedules. Commenting on the buyout, Mary-Kate said in a statement, ”We are very thankful that we are able to enjoy our college experience, run a business, and live our lives.”

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