More wealthy than Bob Marley, but not as well known
By Ricky Browne
Jamaica’s richest dead celebrity is reggae superstar Bob Marley, known by millions perhaps billions of people all around the world. But few Jamaicans know who is currently the richest living Jamaican. That honour goes to British-born billionaire Sir Chris Hohn, who may be the richest person of Jamaican descent.
Hohn, who is of Jamaican parentage, is a hedge fund manager and the founder of the Children’s Investment (TCI) Fund Management. The 54-year-old was in the news this week for having paid himself £343 million (US$479 million) last year – after his company made a profit of US$695 million – an increase of some US$420 million over 2019.
Hohn’s salary for 2020 translates to J$72.1 billion – or close to 10 percent of the entire Jamaican budget for 2020 of J$853.5 billion.
The amount is said to be perhaps the largest annual salary ever paid to anyone in the UK.
The Guardian reported that Hohn’s 2020 salary is 9,000 times the average UK salary and 1,700 times the salary of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
But Hohn is worth a lot more than his annual salary. According to Forbes magazine, Chris Hohn ranks at number 330 on its rich list, with an estimated fortune of US$5.9 billion.
The only Jamaican that comes close might be Michael Lee Chin, who Forbes ranks as 1,063 on its rich list with a comparatively smaller fortune of US$1.6 billion.
He’s still a billionaire though. Jamaican-born Lee Chin made his fortune in Canada founding AIC Ltd and then built upon it in Jamaica when he acquired NCB, the country’s largest commercial bank.
Other wealthy Jamaicans such as the recently deceased Butch Stewart of Sandals Resorts International, and music mogul Chris Blackwell, have not made it onto the Forbes list.
Hohn is considered an activist investor, and was knighted largely for his propensity to donate large sums of money to causes that benefit children. He is believed to have donated more than £1 billion to various charities that can positively affect the lives of children. In 2019 alone, he donated some US$386 million via his Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.
Hohn, who on the face of it would seem to be the kind of person that leftist-leaning causes would despise, is also the largest single donor to Extinction Rebellion. He is believed to have donated £200,000 pounds to the group in 2019. The ER movement seeks to reverse the effects of climate change, and has received global coverage for some of its more radical protests.
But his charity also extends to the most recent issue affecting the whole world. In April last year, Hohn is said to have made a £2.4 million donation for 100 Covid-19 testing machines.
Among his many claims to fame, Hohn once employed Rishi Sunak, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, to work for his company. Sunak worked as a junior analyst at TCI from 2006 to 2009. That experience is not listed on Sunak’s LinkedIn profile, which starts with his current job that he got in 2020.
Hohn’s parents are Paul and Winnie Hohn, both Jamaicans He is the nephew of Marigold Harding, the former custos of St Andrew in Jamaica, and the wife of Ossie Harding, the now retired senator from the Jamaica Labour Party.
Hohn is also the cousin of Zachary Harding who now leads Stocks and Securities Ltd (SSL) a Jamaican stock broking company, as Group CEO.
Apart from having the largest salary in British history, Hohn also has the distinction of having one of the largest divorce settlements in British history, when he had to give his former wife some £337 million.
Hohn is a private person, who is not well known in Jamaica. But he is known to have visited the Round Hill Hotel in Hanover for its annual Sugarcane Ball. In 2019, Hohn was honoured for his continuous contribution to Hanover Charities and was awarded a painting done specifically for him by artist Susan Clare.
He was the second person to be so honoured by Hanover Charities, the first being well-known fashion designer Ralph Lauren.
TCI was founded in 2003 by Hohn, who holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School. The company seeks to invest in high quality companies with sustainable competitive advantages, it says.
On the TCI fund website, the company says: “TCI is a value orientated, fundamental investor which invests globally in strong businesses with sustainable competitive advantages. Using a private equity approach, TCI conducts deep fundamental research, constructively engages with management and adopts a long-term investment horizon. TCI is an opportunistic investor investing from time to time in corporate transformations and special situations. TCI will drive outcomes by using activism when appropriate. The TCI Master Fund is highly concentrated to maximize alpha.”
“We invest in high quality companies with predictable free cash flow”, the site quotes Hohn as saying.