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Why Ivanka Trumps Melania As A World’s Most Powerful Woman

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Forbes’ 100 World’s Most Powerful Women 2017 ranking features only one Trump—and it’s not the First Lady. Since its inception in 2004, this is the first time our annual directory of the women who matter most on the global stage does not include the wife of the U.S. president. It is also the only time a First Daughter has found herself in the ranking: Ivanka Trump lands as the No. 19 Most Powerful Woman. As Ivanka—a senior advisor to President Donald Trump —has risen as a weighty voice in the White House, Melania Trump appears to have assumed a far quieter role.

Officially advising her father since March, Ivanka has been both praised and criticized for her influence in the Trump Administration. The First Daughter (and wife of Jared Kushner, also a senior advisor to the president) is known to have more liberal views than 45. While it’s widely contested how much she has been able to tip her father’s policies to the left, she is one of the few women who are close to the highest office in the country.

See Full List: 100 World’s Most Powerful Women

“I am a real estate developer and an entrepreneur. More important, I’m a wife and a mother,” Ivanka wrote in her 2017 self-help book called Women Who Work. “I design and build iconic properties all over the world; I have also created and am growing a business that seeks to inspire and empower women in all aspects of their lives. I’m busy teaching my children the value of hard work and the importance of family.”

As the founder of her eponymous retail brand, Ivanka Trump has been a self-proclaimed women’s rights advocate long before her role at the White House. She launched the initiative Women Who Work in 2014 (a precursor to her 2017 book), highlighting the lives of working American women and mothers. By the time she joined the family quest to the ultimate frontier; the White House, she had already taken the reins of the family business as the executive VP at the Trump Organization, and the cofounder of Trump Hotels and their more affordable hotel line, Scion. In June 2015, however, she took on a different role and introduced her father when he declared his candidacy in New York City. A little over a year later, she set the stage for him at the Republican National Convention.

“My father values talent. He recognizes real knowledge and skill when he finds it. He is color blind and gender neutral,” the soon-to-be first daughter said as she addressed 50,000 people in Cleveland, “he will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.” Since her father announced he would pursue a ticket to the White House, Ivanka has claimed women’s rights would be central to the Trump presidency—even after the Washington Post released an Access Hollywood tape from 2005 which revealed Trump’s lewd remarks about women.

Whether the extent of Ivanka’s influence has been what many have anticipated remains unclear, however. Ivanka, who identifies herself as a political independent, joined congressional Republicans like Marco Rubio in October to call for an increase in the child tax credit, one of her projects under her father’s presidency. She also spearheaded a memorandum in September that set aside at least $200 million to prioritize teaching coding in U.S. schools, especially for girls and minorities.

Yet, the senior advisor has also been widely scrutinized, especially by those who thought she would challenge some of her father’s social views. In July—a month after Ivanka declared her support for the LGBTQ community—many took to Twitter to criticize her lack of apparent response to Trump’s proposed ban on transgender individuals serving in the army. “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy,” she had tweeted during the NYC Pride Week.

In the first months of his presidency, Trump also took a lot of heat for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, for extending the “global gag rule,” and for not immediately denouncing neo-Nazis and the KKK after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, causing Ivanka to be depicted as “complicit,” especially by those who disapprove of the current trajectory of the Trump presidency.

“If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact then I’m complicit,” the advisor told CBS This Morning in April. “I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I am doing.”

“The musical Hamilton showed us that it matters to be in the ‘room where it happens.’ Ivanka wants everyone to know she was in the room, but was not responsible for whatever happens,” said Andrea Purse, former White House communications staffer during the Obama Administration. “On issue after issue—on climate, LGBT issues, ‘women’s’ issues that she claims to care about, she has failed to deliver when it mattered most.”

In August, Ivanka was under heavy fire again due to her support for the halt of a planned Obama-era rule that would have required businesses to begin collecting data to combat pay discrimination, a cause she has championed. “Whether my contribution ultimately lives up to the expectations of some of the harshest critics? Only time will tell,” she told the Financial Times in September.

Unlike Ivanka, Melania Trump fails to join the Most Powerful Women list as D.C. insiders claim that she hasn’t completely stepped up to the challenge yet. The First Lady trails powerful women who have trodden the White House like Laura Bush (who came on the list in 2004) and Michelle Obama (who came on in 2009). The expectations are high for the second immigrant First Lady of the U.S. (Louisa Adams, first lady in 1825, was the first) especially with President Trump’s stance on immigration, according to Kelly Gibson, a political consultant at the media firm in D.C.. “I think the role that [she] plays on the administrations’ opinions about immigration and access to what makes people successful in this country could make for very interesting conversation,” Gibson said.

While the skepticism persists, insiders – especially Democrats – expect First Lady Melania Trump, who according to the latest CNN poll from September is the most favorable Trump, to become a more significant voice. “On the campaign trail, she said that her main focus if she were first lady would be to take on bullying. Now that she’s FLOTUS, we haven’t seen her do much on bullying,” political analyst Cartney McCracken said. “But finally, this past Thursday we saw Melania step up in tackling one of the biggest threats to Americans— fighting the opioid epidemic.”

At the White House event in October where President Trump declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency, Melania made the first remarks, a rare occasion thus far. “And I have recently taken a larger interest in what I can do to help fight this epidemic,” she told the crowd, evoking an applause. “I have been participating in meetings and listening sessions, and I have been visiting with people who have been affected by this disease.”

As Melania Trump becomes a voice in addressing the drug addiction epidemic, her critics want to see her do more. “This first lady has not used her position to effect the public good yet,” Kelly Gibson said. “I think the office, FLOTUS, deserves to be on the most powerful list. I don’t think [Melania Trump] has stepped up and fully realized the potential for the good she can do, but am hopeful she will.” – Written by 

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The 10 Most Notable New Billionaires Of 2019

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They come from every corner of the world—Austria and Slovakia to Australia and Vietnam—having made their fortunes in every venture imaginable: music and makeup, software and sweaters. In all, 195 fresh faces joined the world’s billionaire ranks this year. Here are 10 of the most exceptional.


one of eight children, Steward milked cows and slopped hogs on the family farm before school every day while his dad worked as a mechanic, trash collector and janitor to make ends meet. After graduating from Central Missouri State University, he sent out 400 resumes over three years before landing his “dream” job as a salesman at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.

He cofounded IT provider World Wide Technology in 1990, which counts companies like Citi, Verizon and the federal government among its customers. His 59% stake in the $11.2 billion (sales) company, making him one of the richest African-Americans in the country. “I hope what this represents is that all things are possible,” Steward says, a lifelong jazz lover who donated $1.3 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 to create a jazz studies program. “We still live in the greatest country in the world, and God blesses persons of color too.”

After making his fortune in retail, Hang is now focusing on politics, too. In the run-up to Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election, he urged his 2 million Facebook followers to back far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who ultimately won by a ten-point margin. (Hang went as far as threatening to leave the country if Bolsonaro’s leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, won the race.)

Even after the election, he has continued to post live videos of himself on social media almost daily. One recent posting showed him celebrating former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption conviction by dancing poolside to fireworks.

Outside of politics, Hang’s stores are thriving. Havan, the department store chain he cofounded at 24, generated a record $1.2 billion in 2017 sales, up 40% over the prior year. One ingredient in that success: “Always hire happy people; leave the unhappy ones to the competition,” Hang says.

The dermatologists have tapped into the lucrative skin care market with their multilevel marketing firm Rodan + Fields, which boasts $1.5 billion in sales and 300,000 independent “consultants” selling anti-aging creams and more. In February, they launched a new teen acne line, a throwback to their first claim to fame, acne product Proactiv.

The brand took off when the doctors created a licensing deal with infomercial company Guthy-Renker in 1995 to sell their regimen through television advertisements featuring celebrities like Jessica Simpson. The doctors sold their royalty rights in 2016, and now their full attention is on Rodan + Fields. Their goal, Rodan says, is help as many people as possible have “life-changing skin.”

An English major who reluctantly took over his grandfather’s small outerwear company in 2001, Reiss has created the “it” coat of the decade. The Canada Goose CEO marketed his down-filled jackets by giving freebies to people who spent a lot of time in the cold: Bouncers outside of nightclubs, polar explorers and attendees of cold-weather film festivals like the ones in Sundance and Toronto.

His $1,000-plus parkas are now fashion statements, staples on the streets of London, New York and Tokyo and have a strong celebrity following, including Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The stock has climbed threefold since its public debut two years ago; sales rose 46% to $450 million in 2018. Reiss, 45, has kept manufacturing at home as other companies moved offshore: “Making a Canada Goose parka in Canada is like making a Swiss watch in Switzerland.”

She’s just the second woman in Russian to become a billionaire and joins the ranks of the world’s wealthiest thanks to the success of her e-commerce company, Wildberries, which had $1.9 billion in revenue last year. She started the business in 2004 at age 28 in her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave from teaching. She realized how difficult it was for her and other young mothers to shop for clothes for themselves with a newborn at home. Her husband, Vladislav, an IT technician, soon joined her to help grow the business. Today Wildberries sells 15,000 brands of clothing, household products and other items and processes roughly 400,000 orders a day from 2 million daily visitors in Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

In twenty years at Oracle, Catz, a former investment banker and now the company’s co-CEO, is often credited with leading Oracle’s aggressive acquisition strategy, including two hostile takeovers. In January 2005, Oracle acquired competitor PeopleSoft after an 18-month pursuit for $11 billion, more than double its original unsolicited bid.Three years later in April 2008, it acquired BEA Systems for $8.5 billion, a deal that also involved Carl Icahn, the billionaire corporate raider who was a BEA shareholder and pushed BEA to do the deal with Oracle. “I can’t really speak about [working with Icahn] in open session,” Catz said at a May 2019 commencement speech at the Wharton School. “It would be unladylike.”

Born to two Iraqi parents who came to Israel as refugees, Fattal began working in hotels at age 23 as a receptionist. He toiled in other jobs—bellhop, security guard, salesman—before founding his own hotel company in 1999. “From the day I went into the hotel industry, I fell in love with it,” he says. “There is a glamour to it.”

Starting a business just then in Israel would prove exceptionally tough, especially for a tourism-based one like Fattal’s. The Second Intifada conflict with the Palenstinains began in 2000 and lasted for several years. Fattal, however, thrived by targeting local, rather than international, tourists and by persuading hotel owners to switch from global brands to his more affordable one.

Today, Fattal Hotels, which went public in February 2019, owns and operates 40 locations in Israel and the Leonardo Hotels in Europe. “When you’re approaching the guests, it’s like you are on a stage. You have to be courteous, and I just always felt it was my job to maintain the atmosphere for happy people.”

At 21, Jenner is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, earning a ten-figure fortune even earlier than Mark Zuckerberg (who joined the billionaires list at 23 in 2008). “I didn’t expect anything—I did not foresee the future,” Jenner says. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.” She owns 100% of Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that did an estimated $360 million in sales last year. Most of the company’s revenue comes from e-commerce. But Kylie Cosmetics also has a new deal with Ulta that put its goods in all the makeup retailer’s 1,163 U.S. stores, “so people that would never buy my products—or that aren’t my fans—can see them in person.”

A successful IPO last year was music to Ek’s ears. Spotify, the music-streaming service he founded 13 years ago, now has a $24 billion market cap. It still hasn’t had a profitable year, though; its focus is squarely on funneling cash into acquisitions. In February it announced a $340 million purchase of podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM. Ek founded Spotify in 2006 but before that, he found himself adrift as a self-made millionaire in his 20s—clubbing, driving a cherry-red Ferrari Modena—after an early stint at another Swedish tech company. “I was deeply uncertain of who I was and who I wanted to be,” Ek said in 2012. “I really thought I wanted to be a much cooler guy than what I was.”

I never intended to get this far,” said Kenny Park, whose father owned a fishing company. But he has stitched together a fortune making handbags and accessories for U.S. brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Mark Jacobs and Alexander Wang. His Simone Accessories, named after his wife and 62% owned by Park and his family, makes some 30 million handbags, purses and wallets a year in its factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China.

His big break came in 1987 after he flew from Seoul to New York City with a sample bag. He pitched Donna Karan executives an offer to supply bags for almost 30% less than what they were paying their European suppliers, but with one caveat: a “Made in Korea” label. Reluctant at first, Donna Karan agreed to a trial order and by the next year was a key customer, one he still supplies today.

-Luisa Kroll; Forbes Staff

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The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

Fewer Billionaires, Poorer Billionaires On African Continent In 2019

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The Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Managers And Traders

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The computer geeks are taking over Wall Street. During a disappointing year that saw the average hedge fund manager lose money, elite quantitative traders stood out in 2018 from the rest of the trading crowd. More than half of the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders in 2018 were associated with computer-driven algorithmic trading.

Jim Simons, the most famous quantitative trader ever, naturally led the way, earning $1.6 billion. He founded Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund firm that now manages $60 billion, and still plays an important role there even though he retired from day-to-day operations in 2010.

The hedge funds Renaissance manages for outside investors performed well in 2018. For example, the Renaissance Institutional Equities fund last year returned 8.5% and the Renaissance Institutional Diversified Global Equities fund returned 10.3%. Simons’ earnings were further driven by Renaissance’s Medallion fund, a $10 billion black-box strategy that only invests money belonging to Simons and his Renaissance partners and employees.

READ MORE |  Gallery: Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Managers & Traders 201921 imagesView gallery

The hedge fund industry had a miserable year in 2018.  The average hedge fund manager returned -4.07%, according to HFR. That is slightly better than the U.S. stock market, which returned -4.38% last year. In total, the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders made a combined $10.3 billion in 2018.

That’s a big number, but it is still the lowest such earnings figure since the financial crisis. In 2015, another weak hedge fund year, Forbes reported that the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders made $11.4 billion, and in 2011 they made $11.7 billion.

Forbes includes in its analysis hedge fund managers and traders who now mostly or even exclusively manage their own money, and some of them can be found in the top 20 highest earners of 2018. Michael Platt’s BlueCrest Capital Management, for example, returned all outside capital to its clients in 2015. Since then, BlueCrest’s trading activities have performed very well, and in 2018 the firm returned 25% net of all expenses. Platt earned an estimated $1.2 billion last year.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, with $160 billion under management, posted mixed results in 2018. Bridgewater’s investment process is data-driven, searching for economic and other signals. The firm does perform traditional fundamental analysis before turning its research into trading algorithms.

Its big Pure Alpha hedge fund returned 14.6% net of fees in 2018. But Dalio’s important All Weather Fund, in which he is heavily invested, was down by about 6%. Dalio earned an estimated $1 billion in 2018.

Ken Griffin used quantitative and fundamental trading techniques to help build Citadel into a $30 billion hedge fund firm. He had a solid year in 2018, continuing a terrific run that has gone on ever since the financial crisis almost destroyed his him.

Citadel’s flagship hedge fund returned 9.1% last year. Its other hedge funds returned between 6% and 9% net of fees. Griffin earned an estimated $870 million last year.

John Overdeck and David Siegel have built their quantitative trading firm, Two Sigma Investments, into one of the world’s biggest hedge funds. Its funds did well in 2018. For example, Two Sigma’s Absolute Return fund returned 11% and its Compass fund returned 14% net of fees. Overdeck and Siegel each earned an estimated $700 million in 2018.

Overdeck and Siegel met when they both worked at D.E. Shaw early in their careers. The quantitative trading firm was founded by David Shaw, a former computer science professor at Columbia University.

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He took a step back from managing the firm’s operations, but remains involved in its success. D.E. Shaw now manages some $50 billion. It’s big Composite Fund returned 11% net of fees last year. Shaw earned an estimated $500 million in 2018.

Israel Englander is not known as a quant. He founded Millennium Management, a $35 billion hedge fund firm known for its multi-manager strategy that includes dozens of teams using various styles to trade all sorts of assets. Still, a big part of Millennium’s success has been is its WorldQuant unit, a quantitative trading outfit. Last year Millennium’s hedge fund returned 4.8% net of fees and Englander earned an estimated $500 million.

To determine the highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders of 2018, Forbes examined hedge fund returns and worked to understand the fee and ownership structure of a wide array of money management firms. Hedge fund firms generally charge management fees of 2% and performance fees that give them 20% of the trading profits, but we found all sorts of variations on this theme.

In addition, our earnings figures include the personal gain or loss of each manager’s interest in their funds. Our figures are pretax, account for firm expenses and profit-sharing arrangements, and exclude gains or losses stemming from ownership in the investment firms themselves or from investments held outside of the managed investment pools.

-Nathan Vardi Forbes Staff
– Antoine Gara Forbes Staff
– Additional reporting by Jennifer Wang

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The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

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Last October, Forbes tracked the biggest billionaire philanthropists in the U.S. and ranked their efforts with a new philanthropy score. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, cofounders of the Giving Pledge, led our list with $35.8 billion and $35.1 billion, respectively, in lifetime donations. George Soros was third, with $32 billion.

“No other country really rivals the history and tradition of charitable giving that exists in the U.S., which has supported a strong and vital civic sector over the years” says Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy and author of Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. “The high levels of charitable giving here also have something to do with the more limited role government plays in this country than, say, in Canada or European countries. And, of course, the accumulation of wealth here has meant there are more mega-givers than there are in other countries.”

But change is in the air. Big gifts have begun to be handed out by billionaires outside the U.S. as well, following in the footsteps of their American counterparts. Since 2012, 28 non-American members of the Forbes billionaires list have signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half of their wealth away (in their lifetimes or after they die). Some, including those who didn’t sign the pledge, have already taken action toward their goal of 10-figure giving: six non-U.S. billionaires have committed more than $1 billion to philanthropic entities, Forbesconfirmed.

One Indian billionaire gave away not only money, but also a kidney. Kochouseph Chittilappilly built a fortune in electrical appliances. In 2011, two months after he turned 60, he donated one of his kidneys to a complete stranger, and a year later, he launched a charitable foundation that focuses on health care and education. So far he’s donated $95 million, including a gift of $79 million to his foundation.

A small number of billionaires outside of the U.S. like Azim Premji—who recently told Forbes “To whom much has been given, much should be expected”—have put billions of dollars into charitable foundations and causes in their home countries and across the globe.In mid-March Indian tech tycoon Premji announced that he shifted a $7.5 billion stake in his IT outsourcing company, Wipro, to his charitable foundation. That move brought his lifetime giving to $21 billion, according to his foundation.

The news not only solidified Premji as the fourth most generous philanthropist in the world, but also makes him the biggest philanthropist outside the U.S. Premji has put 81% of his wealth toward charitable giving in his lifetime, more than any other current billionaire in percentage terms. A close second is hedge fund billionaire George Soros, who has donated more than 76% of his wealth to his Open Society Foundations. Former billionaire and philanthropy icon Chuck Feeney has given away almost all of his $7.5 billion fortune, Forbesreported in 2012, and inspired Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to establish the Giving Pledge.

Two non-U.S. billionaires who have signed the Giving Pledge but not yet hit the billion-dollar giving mark are stepping up their philanthropic efforts. In Australia, Fortescue Metals founderAndrew Forrest and his wife Nicola donated about $600 million to their Minderoo Foundation, which launched its marine research initiative in 2018.

South African billionaire PatriceMotsepe has donated over $500 million to projects in Africa pertaining to health, farming, agrobusiness, infrastructure, and music. Last year, the African Rainbow Minerals founder also pledged to donate $250 million to South African land reform and $100 million to education initiatives.

One billionaire, who appears to be incredibly generous, is not on the list below because of a technical reason. Dietmar Hopp, cofounder of German software company SAP, put over 60% of his SAP stake—currently worth $6.9 billion—into a charitable outlet that has distributed more than $800 million since 1995. Forbes still counts the shares in Hopp’s charitable outlet as part of his net worth because he retains economic control over the shares and they are not irrevocably placed in a foundation.

Here is Forbes’ list of the biggest billionaire philanthropists from outside the US, measured by total dollar amount donated through mid-March 2019:

*Net worths are as of March 25, 2019.

BANGALORE, INDIA APRIL 27: Wipro Chairman Azim Premji during the announcement of Quarter 4 Results at Wipro Headquarters Sarjapur Road on April 27, 2011 in Bangalore, India. (Photo by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint via Getty Images)

Azim Premji
Citizenship: India
Lifetime giving: $21 billion
Net worth: $5 billion

Through his foundation, IT billionaire Premji has prioritized improving the public school system in some of the most underserved parts of India. He established the Azim Premji University in Bangalore in 2010, which plans to expand its student body from a current 1,300 students to 5,000 students, according to the foundation.

Premji himself never graduated from college, dropping out of Stanford in 1966 to take over his family’s cooking oil business after his father died. He shifted into software and expanded the small company into Wipro, which had $8.4 billion in revenue in 2018. Premji serves as chairman.

CHRISTOPHER HOHN
Christopher Hohn, manager and founder of The Children’s Investment Fund Photographer: Andreas Scholz/Bloomberg NewsBLOOMBERG NEWS

Christopher Hohn
Citizenship: United Kingdom
Lifetime giving: $4.5 billion
Current net worth: $3.1 billion

Hedge fund manager Hohn cofounded the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in 2002 with his then-wife Jamie. Hohn, who had been working at hedge fund firm Perry Capital since 1996, struck out on his own in 2003 to start a London-based hedge fund called the Children’s Investment Fund. Including an undisclosed donation by Perry Capital in 2002, Hohn and Jamie, who divorced in 2014, have given at least $4.5 billion to CIFF, moving assets from the hedge fund into the foundation.

“The original mission in setting up CIFF was to improve the lives of children in developing countries who live in poverty,” says Hohn on CIFF’s website. “This hasn’t changed. I want to solve problems, not make grants.”

Lopez Obrador Meets Mexican Egineering Organizations
Carlos Slim Helu (Photo by Carlos Tischler/Getty Images)GETTY IMAGES

Carlos Slim Helu
Citizenship: Mexico
Lifetime giving: $4.2 billion
Current net worth: $61.4 billion

A telecom tycoon,Slim early on was a critic of the Giving Pledge. “Many of the problems will be solved by business activity and development,” he said in 2011, adding that “Charity doesn’t solve poverty. How much charity has been done in the past years? Trillions of dollars.” Still, he believes in some forms of philanthropy. Since 2006, Slim’s spokesman says, he has donated $4.2 billion to his Carlos Slim Foundation.

He gave $2 billion to his foundation in 2006 and the same amount again in 2010. Most of that money has come from dividends Slim collected from shares he owns in some of Mexico’s largest companies, Forbes reported in 2011. Over the past six years, he’s donated another $160 million to the outfit, which works on improving health conditions and education, among other causes, so people can work to support their families. Helu’s foundation has collaborated with nonprofit organizations, including the Clinton Foundation and the Gates Foundation.

Hong Kong Tycoon Li Ka-shing Retires
Li Ka-shing, former chairman of CK Hutchison and CK Asset (Photo by Zhang Wei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Li Ka-shing
Citizenship: Hong Kong
Lifetime giving: $3.2 billion
Current net worth: $32.5 billion

Since 1980, Li Ka-shing’s foundation has donated billions to education, medical services and research initiatives in 27 countries, including China, where he was born but was forced to flee in 1940 at the age of 12 after Japan invaded Southern China. 

“When I received the Forbes’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, I shared with everyone that my charitable foundation, founded in 1980, is like my third son to me,” he told Forbes in 2017. “I hoped to persuade those who can, in Asia, support causes important to society as a duty in line with supporting our children.”

Hansjoerg Wyss
Hansjoerg WyssCOURTESY OF THE WYSS FOUNDATION

Hansjoerg Wyss
Citizenship: Switzerland
Lifetime giving: $1.9 billion
Current net worth: $5.9 billion

Wyss founded medical device manufacturer Synthes and sold it to Johnson & Johnson in 2012 for $20.2 billion in cash and stock. Wyss is dedicated to protecting the environment not only in his home continent, Europe, but also in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In an op-ed for the New York Times last October, he pledged to donate $1 billion to land and ocean conservation to protect 30% of earth’s surface by 2030. “Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected,” he wrote.

He’s already put at least $1.9 billion into his foundation since 2001. The foundation has doled out $450 million to preserve land around the planet, and Wyss has additionally given $40 million to the same cause. In 2018, Wyss donated an undisclosed sum to the Trust for Public Land so it could buy and retire oil and gas leases on more than 24,000 acres in Wyoming where he resides.

Stephan Schmidheiny
Stephan SchmidheinyCOURTESY OF PETER SCHUERMANN

Stephan Schmidheiny
Citizenship: Switzerland
Lifetime giving: $1.5 billion
Current net worth: $2.3 billion

Schmidheiny became the president of Swiss Eternit Group, his father’s construction materials company, in 1976 when he was just 29. Since 2003, he has donated about $1.5 billion to charity, mostly in shares of his Latin American industrial assets that he placed in his charitable VIVA Trust.

Schmidheiny—who helped organize the UN’s first conference on environment and development in 1992—has distributed more than $600 million to projects across the world that focus on sustainable development. In 2012 Schmidheiny was convicted  by an Italian court of negligence by Eternit’s Italian affiliate that led to 2,000 asbestos-related deaths. Italy’s Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2014, acquitting Schmidheiny.

Deniz Cam;Forbes Staff

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