Christopher Hohn, the founder of The Children’s Investment Fund Management UK LLP, can keep the financial details of his London divorce proceedings private, a judge ruled.
Hohn, 47, started testifying today after media organizations, including Bloomberg News, lost a request to have all of the proceedings heard in public. Judge Jennifer Roberts declined to block reporting of the entire lawsuit over how to divide the couple’s $1.3 billion in assets in one of the largest divorce cases in the U.K.
“A party may well feel constrained,” Roberts said, “if what he or she says will be on the morning’s breakfast table. I should be very concerned indeed if this husband felt constrained in any way.”
Hohn’s wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn, filed for divorce in 2012 after 17 years of marriage. Hohn says his wife is entitled to 25 percent of their marital assets because he made a “special contribution” to the marriage. She is seeking half.
“I’ve created all the wealth -- the expertise, the effort, the sweat and blood -- and the law as I read it is ‘special contribution’ applies,” Hohn said when asked why he deserves 75 percent of the couple’s assets.
Hohn is well-known for his activist investing, buying large stakes in companies and pressuring management to make changes that might drive up the share price. His hedge fund, known as TCI, owns stakes in Moody’s Corp. and Royal Mail Plc (RMG), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund has about $8 billion in assets under management, according to court documents in the case.
While divorces in England are typically heard in private, details of the Hohns’ separation were discussed in a court of appeal ruling last month. A lawyer for Hohn, Diana Parker, and a lawyer for Cooper-Hohn, Sandra Davis, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
London has been called the “divorce capital” of Europe by lawyers and some judges because of U.K. rulings that were criticized as too generous to the spouse who makes less money, often the wife.
Hohn has also given more than $4 billion of the money he has made to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, a charity founded by the couple, who met at Harvard University. Cooper-Hohn ran the foundation as chief executive officer until last year.
Hohn testified today that he’s as dedicated to philanthropy as his wife, and takes particular interest in fighting climate change and human trafficking. He became interested in donating after he worked in the Philippines when he was 20 and “saw children eating from garbage dumps,” he said.
He’s been asked to speak on malnutrition by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and meets with Bill Gates “regularly every year,” to discuss philanthropy. Most recently he traveled to California to meet Gates to discuss vaccines, he said.
“My life isn’t dedicated to making money,” he said. “I live a very simple life. I live it day to day and I learned very early on that you can’t bring it with you and it doesn’t bring you happiness.”
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