Cooper-Hohn divorce: Wife of Britain's biggest philanthropist demands fair share of assets

Jamie Cooper-Hohn claims that The Children’s Investment (TCI) fund is worth more than £500m

The wife of Britain's biggest philanthropist today demanded her “fair share" of the couple’s assets, with an estimated value of more than £1bn, at the start of a hearing that is likely to end in the country’s largest ever divorce settlement.

Jamie Cooper-Hohn, 49, filed for divorce from her husband, the hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn, two years ago, arguing for a half share of The Children’s Investment (TCI) fund which she claims is worth more than £500m. Sir Christopher has said the firm is worth only £60m even though it manages assets worth more than £3.5bn. He is offering his ex-wife 25 per cent of his assets.

Martin Pointer QC, representing Ms Cooper-Hohn, told the High Court yesterday that his client had been living in rented accommodation with the couple’s four children, including triplets, since the separation.

“She expects that to continue,” he told the court. “At the outcome of the case she thinks she will have the resources to buy somewhere for themselves.”

Mr Pointer said: “The family has comparatively modest lives. They have not lived a jet-set lifestyle.”

Mrs Justice Roberts said that “regardless of the size of the settlement, whether it is 25, 30, 40 per cent or whatever, each [of the couple] can afford to live in a home they choose to.”

Together the pair have given more than £1bn to charity through the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation that they founded and which Ms Cooper-Hohn has been Chief Executive, President and Chairman of. It was founded in 2003 so that the majority of TCI’s profits could be channelled into the charity but since their separation Mr Hohn, who is non-domiciled, decided for the first time this year not to.

Instead his company paid out more than £26 million to around 20 members of staff, with the largest sum understood to have been paid to Sir Chris, 47, with further “unallocated profits [from TCI] due to go to him”, Mr Pointer said.

Sir Chris, the son of a Jamaican car mechanic, met Ms Cooper-Hohn when the couple were studying for MBAs at Harvard University.

He told the court: “Both parties come from modest backgrounds and didn’t bring any assets into the marriage. The resources available now have been generated as a result of their efforts during the time of their marriage. We say fundamentally that is what most marriages are: a partnership… and [this case] strikes at the heart of the concept as marriage as partnership.”

Mr Pointer told the court that as of August 2013 the CIFF was valued at $3.8bn but has been worth more than $5bn recently. He said: “Because of their different skills it was natural that the roles taken by the husband and wife involved the husband being the man in charge of the hedge fund, and the wife being the person who substantially manages the foundation.

“How can it be possible be 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?’"

Ms Cooper-Hohn also argues that subsidiary companies owned by Mr Hohn should also be taken into consideration during the hearing. Known as TCI Group entities, she believes they are worth more than £470m. Mr Hohn says they are worth £64.3m.

Mr Pointer held up an organogram in court to show how all the subsidiaries are connected in order to highlight the complexity of the network of firms. He said pensions, “other investments” and property should also all be taken into consideration when deciding the final settlement.

The largest previous divorce settlement is believed to be £220 million, paid in 2011 by the late Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. That is set to be trumped whatever the outcome of the Hohn case.

Citing a previous case where a couple’s assets were split evenly despite a six year separation before divorce, Mr Pointer said: “The lodestone should be fairness.”

The hearing, expected to last 10 days, continues tomorrow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before