Monday, June 23, 2008

Masdar: Goldsmith brothers top European eco-rich list

To draw attention to the range of wealthy individuals concerned about environmental and social sustainability Wealth Bulletin is profiling forty individuals in Europe who are providing financial, and thought, leadership. The top ten are ranked, thirty others are listed in alphabetical order. (

The list, which is by no means comprehensive, seeks to demonstrate the range of committed individuals recommended to Wealth Bulletin by sustainable peers. It excludes the heads of large corporations, such as HSBC and Marks & Spencer, who have recently become committed to green initiatives, on the grounds that the bulk of their operations are traditional, rather than green.

Our research suggests Europe’s top 10 green moguls are:

1. Ben and Zac Goldsmith

Speciality: games without frontiers

The sons of the late Sir James Goldsmith are at the centre of the global green movement, using their family fortune, worth about £500m (€630m) in the UK, to pursue political initiatives; philanthropy; venture capital and recruitment consulting.

2. Marcel Brenninkmeijer

Speciality: all-weather

Member of the Dutch family behind retailer C&A, he chairs Good Energies, the backer to solar company Q-Cells. It has added wind to the portfolio and advises on energy efficiency. The company also volunteers resources to bring electricity to emerging economies.

3. Vincent Tchenguiz

Speciality: leverage

The real estate tycoon has lost none of his interest in leverage. He uses defence offsets, grants and aid to help finance green projects serviced by companies in his orbit. His South African fund has won backing from the World Bank. He is linked into Abu Dhabi’s $30bn (€19bn) Masdar clean energy project.

4. Frank Asbeck

Speciality: sun power

The Asbeck family’s SolarWorld uses the engineering skills that are helping Germany to regain its prestige. Its share price has risen 10,000% in the last five years, making it Europe’s top-performing listed family business.

5. The Prince of Wales

Speciality: Royal influence

Prince Charles gets criticised every time he steps on an aircraft, but his long-standing commitment to sustainable issues is undoubted. He backs environmentally sound developments and his Prince’s Trust charity finances youthful endeavours. His new Accounting for Sustainability Project report explains how companies can do better.

6. Lisbet and Sigrid Rausing

Speciality: giving graciously

The sisters, members of the Tetra Pak dynasty, shame other wealthy types with generous donations to environmental causes. Lisbet operates through Arcadia Trust and Sigrid gives through the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

7. Jørgen Clausen

Speciality: green efficiency

Chairman of family-owned Danish engineering company Danfoss. In manufacturing products, including fridges and air conditioning, it aims to be “more restrictive than required by legislation”. Pushing heat pumps hard. Striving to make the entire region round his home base in Sonderborg carbon-neutral.

8. Hylton Murray-Philipson

Speciality: jungle fever

Not the richest on the list, but the former Morgan Grenfell executive has scored a hit by buying environmental rights to a 371,000-hectare rainforest in Guyana. His firm Canopy Capital believes the owners of forests will one day be compensated for carbon offsets and rainfall benefits. Crucially, 80% of Canopy’s profits will go to the local community.

9. Nicolas Hayek

Speciality: try, try, again.

Octogenarian Nicolas Hayek made Swatch of Switzerland a global brand. He broke new ground with the fuel-efficient Smart car, built by Daimler, but pulled out over its use of petrol. Undaunted, he is working on fuel cell engines with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

10. Stanley Fink

Speciality: corporate pioneer

The former chief executive of hedge fund specialist Man Group was the first top UK business leader to take climate change seriously. Under his leadership, Man funded lobby group Global Cool, became carbon-neutral and backs green funds.

The remaining 30 are listed in alphabetical order:

Prince Albert II of Monaco

Leading from the top

Second only to the Prince of Wales as a European royal dedicated to improving the environment. Has launched a foundation which focuses on climate change, biodiversity and access to drinking water.

Percy Barnevik

Rural Regenerator

Former chief executive of engineering group Asea Brown Boveri. Left in controversial circumstances, but has rehabilitated his reputation by creating Hand in Hand, a charity dedicated to improving the lot of the rural poor in emerging economies.

Yann Arthus-Bernard

Photo opportunity

French photographer, whose work displays the qualities of the earth’s natural environment. Has put together a not-for-profit organisation called GoodPlanet to promote sustainable development.

Sir Richard Branson

Prize giver

Head of the UK-based Virgin group. Finances research being carried out by Gevo of California into using environmentally-sensitive butanol as a fuel for its airline. Has agreed to donate $25m to any project which removes a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere.

James Cameron/Mark Woodall

Clean advisers

Co-leaders of Climate Change Capital, which provides advice on deals involving sustainability and manages a large clean technology private equity fund. Made wealthy, on paper, through a deal which involved the purchase of a 50%-plus stake in their business by institutional investors for £56m.

Sir Ronald Cohen

Social pioneer

Founder of the Bridges venture capital group, which pioneered the concept of social private equity investment. Also committed to campaigning for Middle East peace through Portland Trust by promoting Palestinian and Israeli economic initiatives.

Nigel Doughty

Private equity pathfinder

Leads Doughty Hanson private equity firm, which declared its carbon neutrality in 2006. Committed to sound environmental practices, supports United Nations initiatives in the area and advises portfolio companies on sustainable issues. Appointed Adam Black from KPMG in May to supervise these initiatives.

Neil Eckhert

Carbon trader

Founder of Brit Insurance Holdings, recently became chairman of the European Climate Exchange, dedicated to carbon trading. Also founder-director of the Chicago Environmental Fund.

Johan Eliasch

Forest preservation

Swedish-born founder of the Head sporting goods manufacturing company. Owns a large tract of the Brazilian rain forest, with a view to preserving it for future generations. Has advised UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on green issues.

Ditlev Engel

Wind power blue chip

Chief executive of Vestas, which lays claim to being the world’s leading supplier of wind power solutions. Supplies wind turbines across the world, and played a leading role in helping 20% of the energy needs of its home country, Denmark, to come from wind.

Lord Norman Foster

Sustainable architect

Architect of the energy-efficient Masdar City planned by the Abu Dhabi government. Proponent of the use of environmentally-sensitive building design. Told a recent World Future Energy summit: “The world of sustainability has to be a better world.

Chris Hohn

Hedge fund donor

Leads The Children’s Investment hedge fund (TCI) which donates a portion of its fee income to charities and sustainable initiatives. His wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn leads the TCI Foundation, which supports a series of charities in emerging economies. Invests in George Polk’s European Climate Foundation.

Mark Ferguson

Investment excellence

Son of Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United FC and chief investment officer of Al Gore and David Blood’s Generation asset management firm which takes a long-term view of sustainability issues when carrying out stock selection.

Nick Josefowitz

Green all-rounder

Wealthy founder of RenGen Energy, which has backed a variety of solar and landfill projects.. Backer to Pure Climate Foundation and Forests Philanthropy Action Network.

Andreas Knoerzer

Director of sustainable investments at Bank Sarasin, widely seen as the greenest private bank in Switzerland, owned by Dutch Rabobank. Sarasin has developed its initiative since 1989. Offers clients a one-stop solution on green products.

Pierre Lagrange

Sustainable investor

Manager of the GLG Environmental Fund and Virgin Climate Change Fund. Invests in stocks with lighter-than-average environmental footprints. On record as saying that environmental issues will lead to a change in thinking as important as the internet.

Thierry Lombard

Private banker with a conscience

Senior partner at Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch and guardian of its ethical and environmental initiatives. Secured sole marketing agreement in continental Europe with Generation Asset Management for Lombard Odier, a backer of other clean energy initiatives.

Sienna Miller

Green glamour

Celebrity actress, who happens to be more committed than most to green initiatives. Campaigns for environmental charity Global Cool and permanent supporter of the Green Party.

Mortimer Menzel

Renewable adviser

Head of the renewable energy practice at Augusta & Co, which advises on transactions and clean energy fund raisings. A former Goldman Sachs financier based in Frankfurt.

Tom Murley (Hg)

Veteran venture capitalist

Head of the renewable energy group at Hg Capital, the largest in the UK. Takes a hard headed view of opportunities in the sustainable space. Correctly forecast a set back for stocks in the sector last year.

Eddie O’Connor

Cleaning up

Founder of Ireland’s Airtricity wind farm company, who has just been enriched by its sale to UK utility group Scottish & Southern for a total of €1.8bn, including €750m for the disposal of its North American operations. Proves sustainability is becoming big business.

Michael Otto

Wildlife supporter

Heads up the Otto mail order company, which requires its suppliers to meet tough labour and environmental standards. His Michael Otto Foundation campaigns for better stewardship of the natural environment. Supports a series of sustainable initiatives in Germany, including cleaner rivers and wildlife parks.

Reto Ringger

Investment pioneer

Chief executive of Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management, backed by Robeco. Creator of the first globally diversified Cleantech private equity fund and Dow Jones Sustainability index. SAM manages a broad range of sustainable funds.

Gordon Roddick

Green is beautiful

A pioneer of the capitalist green movement as co-founder, with his late wife Anita, of Body Shop, a vendor of sustainable beauty products, sold to L’Oreal for £650m in 2006. Continues to back philanthropic products

Baron Benjamin de Rothschild

Family tradition

Chairman of LCF Rothschild. The Rothschild family has been concerned about environmental issues – it was founder of the International Polar Foundation, long before heightened concern over global warming. Opposes extreme green movements and supports the use of technology, including nuclear energy, to combat climate change.

Sarah Butler-Sloss

Serial sustainer

Executive chair of the Ashden Trust, backed by the wealthy Sainsbury family of which she is a member. Ashden has backed various projects which makes money available to broad range of sustainable and social projects.

Lord Adair Turner

Thought leader

Ex-McKinseyite, former head of the UK Confederation of British Industry, future chairman of the Financial Services Authority and author of UK government report on pensions. Deeply concerned about climate change and charged with setting carbon dioxide emission targets for the UK government.

Kate Tunstall

Rock chic

Better known as KT Tunstall, she is arguably the rock music industry’s most dedicated environmental campaigner. Backer of Global Cool’s low carbon emission initiative. Planted 6000 trees to offset emissions from her debut album. Once said: “We are trashing the guesthouse, and its feels wrong.”

Gordon Shields

Environment adviser

Chairman of Shields Environmental, dedicated to advising clients on the importance of sustainable initiatives. Specialises in optimising the use of telecommunications equipment across the world.

Thom Yorke

Vocal campaigner

Lead singer with Radiohead, earns a mention by showing his huge fan base that he is publicly committed to climate change initiatives led by Friends of the Earth and others. Is troubled about being unable to offset fully the environmental cost of his world tours: “I don’t drive a big car but I don’t come out of it dirt-free.”

Worthwhile links

Internet links worth exploring are many and various. provides scientific evidence for global warming trend. The Stern review of climate change is posted on the web site. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is on

The Conservative party Blue Print for a Green Economy, co-authored by Zac Goldsmith can be found on

The Goldsmith family’s guide to green donors is on Information on clean energy can be found on

One of Europe’s better known environmental think tanks is the Sustainable Europe Research Institute on It contains details of a variety of environmental research projects, as does the public sector Swedish Mistra foundation on Business-aware green lobby group Global Cool is on

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