Divorce Hearing For TCI’s Hohn, Wife Opens

Jul 3 2014 | 7:17am ET

The Children’s Investment Fund founder Christopher Hohn’s estimate of his net worth is at least one order of magnitude smaller than his estranged wife’s.

At a divorce hearing, Jamie Cooper-Hohn’s lawyers alleged that Hohn was hiding assets, claiming the couple’s joint assets are about £850 million and that Hohn has personal assets of at least £872 million more, including TCI itself. Hohn has countered that he’s worth only £67 million.

“The resources available now have been generated as a result of their efforts during the time of their marriage,” her lawyer, Martin Pointer, said. “We say fundamentally that is what most marriages are: a partnership.”

“How can it be possibly fair that a couple who have agreed how to run their lives together for the wife to only receive a quarter of the assets? He says that some of the assets have been generated post-separation but before the divorce and themselves should not be shared…. But we say, ‘so what?’”

The hearing will help determine how much of Hohn’s money Cooper-Hohn will get. She wants half while he says she should get only a quarter. But the fight over how large a pie those slices are to come from is an even bigger issue.

A judge last month rejected Cooper-Hohn’s bid to introduce expert testimony about her the value of TCI, which is wholly-owned by Hohn, saying such a valuation would be merely “hypothetical.”

At this week’s hearing, expected to last 10 days, Cooper-Hohn’s lawyer said that Hohn “has spent his whole life making money” and “has generated wealth of £3.45 billion.” Despite that, Pointer acknowledged that both Cooper-Hohn and Hohn lead “relatively modest lives,” an assertion accepted by the judge, who called it “more of a Swatch lifestyle.”

Pointer said that Cooper-Hohn and the couple’s four children have been living in rented accommodations since the split, and that “she thinks she will have the resources to buy somewhere” after the divorce is finalized. The judge noted wryly that, “regardless of the size of the settlement, whether it is 25, 30, 40% or whatever, each can afford to live in a home they choose to.”

Cooper-Hohn took the stand at the hearing, but it is unclear how she testified, due to a court order banning its reporting. 

The couple, who met at Harvard University and who have been married for nearly 30 years, filed for divorce in 2012. They have been among the most generous philanthropists in the U.K., with Cooper-Hohn running the Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

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