Hedge-fund couple Chris Hohn and Jamie Cooper-Hohn on track for Britain’s first billion pound divorce
Chris Hohn and Jamie Cooper-Hohn begin legal proceedings to settle the division of their assets, worth as much as £1.2 billion
TOGETHER they have broken British records for philanthropy and financial performance. Now Chris Hohn and Jamie Cooper-Hohn are on track to set a new record — for the country’s biggest-ever divorce settlement.
The hedge fund manager and his former wife, who have given more than £1 billion to charity, have started legal proceeding to settle the division of their assets, worth as much as £1.2billion.
But the couple, who have four children, including triplets, cannot agree on how much they are worth.
The Court of Appeal was told that the Hohns’ resources include £680 million worth of investments in Mr Hohn’s hedge fund, The Children’s Investment Fund, which is one of the world’s top performing investment vehicle. There is also £17 million of “other investments”; pensions worth £50 million; and properties valued at £21 million.
In addition there are subsidiary companies owned by Mr Hohn, described in the court documents as “TCI Group entities”. Mr Hohn claims the total value of the assets within the entities is £64.3 million.
Ms Cooper-Hohn, who was born in America, disputes the valuation of the TCI Group entities and has argued that they could be worth as much as £470 million. She also wants 50 per cent of the total assets — as is usual in divorce cases — but Mr Hohn , 47, the son of a Jamaican car mechanic, said she should only get 25 per cent because of his “special contribution” to the wealth.
Ms Cooper-Hohn, 49, has hired experts from EY, the financial services company, to independently value the assets in the TCI entities. But on Wednesday, she lost her appeal to have the evidence heard.
Lord Justice Ryder said that the expert report could only be hypothetical and would be neither relevant nor necessary.
The value of the entities and the ratio of the final division of assets will now be the subject of a divorce trial which has been set to begin on June 30.
Whatever the outcome, it is likely to be the largest ever settlement in the UK. The previous largest settlement is believed to be £220 million, paid in 2011 by the late Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. TCI, which was founded in 2003, was set up so that the majority of its annual profits were automatically channelled into the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The charity is chaired by Ms Cooper-Hohn.
Mr Hohn has a reputation for being a highly aggressive investor but he has emerged as one of the most successful financiers in the world.
The success of TCI has led to blockbuster payouts to the foundation. In 2008 he gave £466 million to the foundation, thought to be the biggest donation by a Briton in a single year. Since then he has given more than £250 million to the foundation, despite the ravages of the financial crisis.
CIFF has been credited with revolutionising charitable work by applying hedge fund–style performance targets to projects. Last June, it was the driving force behind a London summit, hosted by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, designed to tackle children’s malnutrition around the world.
However, since the couple’s divorce last year, the ties between TCI and CIFF have been unwound.
Louise Armitstead, Telegraph.co.uk