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FB Roundup: Nicolas Puech, MacKenzie Scott, Andrew Forrest

FB Roundup: Nicolas Puech, MacKenzie Scott, Andrew Forrest
In this week’s FB Roundup, Hermès heir Nicolas Puech is reportedly adopting his 51-year-old gardener in a succession shakeup; MacKenzie Scott donates $2.1 billion in 2023; and Mining magnate Andrew Forrest calls to scrap fossil fuels.
By Glen Ferris
Nicolas Puech

Hermès heir Nicolas Puech reportedly adopting 51-year-old gardener in succession shakeup
Nicolas Puech, the fifth-generation descendant of the Hermès International fashion house founder Thierry Hermès, is reportedly leaving a large portion of his vast wealth to his longtime gardener and handyman.

The unmarried and child-free 80-year-old scion of the renowned luxury French design house is believed to be in the process of adopting his unnamed 51-year-old former groundskeeper, as reported by the Tribune de Genève. According to the Swiss newspaper, Puech plans to legally designate his “former gardener and handyman” from a “modest Moroccan family” as his rightful heir.

One of Switzerland’s wealthiest individuals, Puech, who has a net worth of $11.5 billion (according to Forbes), resigned from Hermès supervisory board in August 2014 but still owns about 5% of the company, while other family members together hold a majority stake.

As reported by The Mail, the unnamed gardener is “reportedly married to a woman from Spain, with two children of their own, and stands to inherit a significant portion of Puech’s fortune, which includes acquiring substantial properties in Marrakesh, Morocco and Montreux, Switzerland, valued at $5.9 million.”

In September 2014, Hermès and luxury goods titan LVMH reached an agreement to distribute LVMH’s 23% stake in Hermes to its shareholders. The agreement settled a four-year dispute, which was launched when LVMH accumulated the stock without its rival’s knowledge.

The wrangle allegedly kickstarted a bitter battle within the Puech family, leading to Nicolas Puech’s resignation from the company’s board.  “He resigned because he has felt for several years beleaguered by members of his family, who have attacked him on several fronts, not only regarding LVMH,” said a spokesperson for Puech at the time.

MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott donates $2.1 billion in 2023
Renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $2.1 billion in 2023, raising her total giving to more than $16 billion since 2019.

“Excited to call attention to these 360 outstanding organisations, every one of whom could use more allies,” said Scott in a short post titled, ‘Giving Update this year’. “Inspired by all the ways people work together to offer each other goodwill and support.”

Scott, who has a net worth of $40.2 billion (according to Bloomberg) owing to a 4% stake in Amazon, which was founded by her ex-husband Jeff Bezos, has undertaken to give away most of her estimated personal wealth through the Giving Pledge and with numerous gifts to more than 1,600 non-profit organisations (with many causes focusing on LGBTQ+ and racial equality, democracy, climate change and people affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic).

In 2023, three donations of $25 million were made to affordable housing non-profit Mercy Housing, reproductive care organisation Upstream USA and youth training group Year Up, according to her Yield Giving website.

In early 2023, Scott issued an ‘open call’ for community-focused non-profits to apply for funding through Yield Giving. The call received 6,353 applications - meaning candidates had a roughly 4% chance of being selected for a $1 million grant, according to The Associated Press. Lever for Change, the organisation overseeing the application process, has said it will announce the winners early next year.

Andrew Forrest

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest calls for scrap on fossil fuels
Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has called for a major pivot away from fossil fuel use. Speaking at COP28, the former chief executive officer of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) “challenged the five largest oil and gas companies to phase out fossil fuels in an international campaign urging the industry to act now, as climate negotiations in Dubai entered the final hours.”

“The climate has come hard at people in the last six months,” Forrest said in an interview with The National. “I don't know what it is going to look like in the future, but it's not going to be pretty.

“The devastation this [burning of fossil fuels] is causing in the developing world, throughout the tropical world and subtropical world is just so serious that the argument [to phase out fossil fuels] has become completely clear,” said Australia’s second-richest man, who has a net worth of $26.3 billion (according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) after founding FMP, Australia’s biggest export market of iron ore. “We can no longer say the world doesn't have choices. All the energy the world could ever consume in any possible future paradigm is available – from renewable energy, from harmless green electricity and green hydrogen.”

While Forrest made his fortune in Australia's mining industry, he has latterly focused on sustainable technology, including initiatives to decarbonise mining operations and mass produce green hydrogen.

According to The National, “he hopes to transition his own mining operations away from fossil fuels by 2030 and is part of plans to send solar power generated in Darwin to Singapore via a 4,200km undersea cable.

“There are also plans to reduce carbon emissions from the shipping industry, currently responsible for about 3% of the world’s total greenhouse gases.”

“Mining is like energy, it must pivot away from doing [environmental] harm to provide all the world with what it needs, without damaging it,” said Forrest. “The oil and gas sector will have you believe there is either economic growth [with oil and gas] or nothing. That is just completely wrong.

“I offer a public invitation to chairmen of the five largest oil and gas companies to join me in a discussion to debate why the phase out of fossil fuels is mandatory. It is fair to expect a constant improvement in our economies, but that must not be done at the expense of obliterating the environment. Industrialists of the world must transition towards a zero-harm way of providing energy, manufactured goods and commodities. It is industrialists like me who must change.”

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