London Business School received a $40 million pledge from the billionaire industrialist Idan Ofer for construction of a new building, the largest gift in the school’s history.
The gift, made through the Idan and Batia Ofer Family Foundation, follows a $16 million gift from the South African businessman Nathan Kirsh last month, which at the time ranked as the school’s biggest.
The Ofer gift will be used to redevelop Old Marylebone Town Hall, which was acquired by London Business School last year. The plans call for construction of an additional three-story building that will include six new lecture theaters, a library, 35 seminar rooms, faculty offices, a student lounge, and a new alumni center. Work is expected to begin next year, and the facility will be named the Sammy Ofer Center in honor of Idan Ofer’s late father.
Ofer, whose net worth is estimated at $5.6 billion by Bloomberg News, is a principal of the Quantum Pacific Group, which has holdings in energy, shipping, natural resources, and other industries.
Ofer’s gift pales in comparison to those made to U.S. business schools, which top out at $350 million, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. That 2011 gift, for the new Cornell campus in New York City, was from Cornell alumnus Charles Feeney to the university, not the Johnson Graduate School of Management, although the business school will have an MBA program on the campus. The largest direct gift to a business school was David Booth’s $300 million for the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in 2008.
The Ofer gift goes a long way toward helping London Business School achieve its goal of raising $160 million over the next five years. In addition to construction at Old Marylebone Town Hall, the money will help the school attract world-class faculty, double its scholarships, invest in technology, and raise an unrestricted fund to advance its strategic priorities.