TCI Chief, Wife Battle Over Fund’s Value In Divorce

Jun 19 2014 | 9:05am ET

The Children’s Investment Fund Management founder Christopher Hohn’s wife is fighting for half of their assets in their divorce—but as of yesterday, she’s fighting for half of a much smaller total.

A London appeals court rejected Jamie Cooper-Hohn’s request to allow expert evidence to value TCI, which is wholly-owned by Hohn. He has said that the firm is worth only £64 million (US$108.5 million) because it would be worthless were he to walk away. Cooper-Hohn argues that the firm is worth more than £872 million (US$1.48 billion).

“The notion that the husband is really the only person who matters for the purposes of valuing the business is overstating it,” Cooper-Hohn’s lawyer, Martin Pointer, said. But Hohn’s lawyer, Lewis Marks, shot back that his client is “the sole decision-maker in this enterprise, makes all the investment decisions and is the regulated person as far as the Financial Services Authority is concerned. Without him, there is no business.”

Either way, the expert evidence would be no better than “hypothetical,” the court ruled, and “some assets cannot be ascribed a critical value.”

The Hohns have been married for nearly 30 years and have 13-year-old triplets. Cooper-Hohn filed for divorce two years ago; the trial is set to begin on June 30.

The split could be the most expensive in British history: The Hohns have about £770 million (US$1.3 billion) in assets—not counting TCI itself. Cooper-Hohn says she’s entitled to half that; Hohn says she should get only a quarter.

The couple aren’t the only ones affected by the split: TCI’s namesake charity—run by Cooper-Hohn—is no longer entitled to a share of TCI’s profit. That change, which became effective this year, was set in motion two years ago, at the same time that Cooper-Hohn filed for divorce. Over the past 10 years, the hedge fund has donated nearly US$2 billion to the The Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

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