The billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn paid himself $479m last year after his Children’s Investment (TCI) fund, recorded a 66% jump in pre-tax profits to $695m.
It is believed to be the highest annual amount ever paid to one person in Britain and equates to £940,000 a day. It is 9,000 times the average UK salary and 1,700 times the amount paid to the prime minister, Boris Johnson.
Hohn’s huge $479m (£343m) payday is significantly higher than the previous record of £323m paid to Denise Coates, the majority shareholder of the betting company Bet365, in 2018.
The staggering amount was paid in dividends from TCI, the hedge fund Hohn set up in 2003, to Hohn’s personal company TCI Fund Management (UK) Limited, according to a filing at Companies House on Monday. The pay was for the year to 29 February 2020.
The accounts for TCI Fund Management (UK) Limited, which is 100% owned by Hohn, show that it holds total shareholder funds of $1.94bn.
Hohn, 54, previously employed the chancellor, Rushi Sunak, to help run his hedge fund. Hohn, the son of a Jamaican car mechanic who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, hired Sunak in 2006. TCI’s aggressive campaign at the Dutch bank ABN Amro led to its sale to Royal Bank of Scotland, which was seen as a key reason for RBS’s near collapse during the financial crisis. Hohn has said that deal was his and not Sunak’s. Sunak left TCI in 2009.
TCI, which holds big stakes in Visa, Microsoft, Google’s owner, Alphabet, and a controversial Canadian oil transportation railway company, recorded pre-tax profits of $695m, up from $420m the year before. Turnover increased from $472m to $888m.
The hedge fund, which is based in a townhouse in the Mayfair district in central London, is ultimately owned by a parent company in the Cayman Islands tax haven. “The ultimate parent undertaking is The Children’s Investment Fund Management (Cayman) Limited, an entity registered in the Cayman Islands,” the accounts state. “The ultimate controlling party is C Hohn.”
Hohn is one of the UK’s more generous philanthropists and gave away $386m through his personal charity, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, in 2019, according to the latest available accounts.
Hohn has made tackling the climate crisis central to the mission of his hedge fund and charity, and has begun to target the directors of companies that fail to disclose their carbon emissions.
Hohn is the biggest single donor to Extinction Rebellion on account of the “urgent need” for people to wake up to the climate emergency. “I recently gave them £50,000 because humanity is aggressively destroying the world with climate change and there is an urgent need for us all to wake up to this fact,” Hohn said in 2019. His charity is thought to have pledged a further £150,000.
The High Pay Centre’s Luke Hildyard, who campaigns against excessive executive pay, called for higher taxes on top earners such as Hohn. “The sources of hedge fund owner’s wealth include the profits of the companies they invest in and the funds provided by their super-rich clients,” he said. “Extreme payouts such as this demonstrate that there is considerable scope for highly profitable companies to pay their staff more, and for the super-rich individuals that either own or invest in hedge funds to pay more tax, so that everyone can enjoy better public services and a fairer, more cohesive society.”