Chris Hohn

Sure, TCI’s Chris Hohn has made all of the $1 billion to $3 billion he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife are fighting over, as he so modestly explained to the judge overseeing their divorce. But she, equally modestly, notes that she made him a not-terrible person. And that, Jamie Cooper-Hohn believes, is priceless. Or at least worth an extra quarter of the pot. Read more »

When Chris Hohn set up his hedge fund nine years ago, he came up with a cute little marketing gimmick. He’d give one-third of the fund’s management fees—and a whole lot more if it did well—to a charity benefiting children. He dubbed his creation, The Children’s Investment Fund.

Carl Icahn undoubtedly thinks that the scheme is bullshit, but it (and/or Hohn’s skill/luck in the markets) worked, and now TCI is running almost $10 billion. And he’s built up The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation’s endowment to in excess of £2 billion.

This, evidently, is enough to solve the problems surrounding “child survival, educational achievement, and nutrition and hunger.” Read more »

  • 19 Jun 2012 at 6:09 PM

Doing Well By Doing Financial Reform

There’s a thing called socially responsible investing where
(1) you invest other people’s money,
(2) poorly,
(3) but it’s okay because you’re doing it not to make them money but to save the whales, er, penguins, and they like penguins, so they keep paying your fees. This is a good racket as rackets go but it turns out that people mostly don’t like penguins as much as they like money so it is sort of a limited racket. The trick if you can manage it is to appeal to people who like penguins to give you other people’s money, because people typically like penguins more than they like other people having money. This can be great for you and also for penguins, and for the right value of “you” and “penguins” can be a diabolical way to achieve real social good, which is my favorite.

Two great recent stories in that vein. One is a proposal to use eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages and refloat them. The idea, schematically, is (1) seize property,* (2) sell it back to homeowner at fair value, and (3) lend money to the homeowner to pay for the house, which the municipality then uses to pay fair value to the mortgage lender whose collateral was seized in step (1). Any dope of a municipality could presumably get their act together to do (1) and (2), but the problem is (3) coming up with the money for new mortgages to pay fair value to the old mortgagee. You could see why oh I don’t know BANKS would not like this scheme – it will cost them in servicing rights and refinancing fees and second-lien writedowns** – and so the money has to come from non-banks. Some folks think they can find the money, for a small fee of course, and so are roadshowing the idea to municipalities. It seems to be popular in California, go figure.

The other is this gloriously cynical play from TCI to try to extract some value out of Lloyds Bank while also improving the stability of the British financial system, maybe. Read more »