The billionaire founder of the well-known sportswear brand: our only shareholder now the planet
It was a known fact, among the super-rich elite, that the billionaire Yvon Chouinard was an extravagant type, bordering on eccentricity. He always wears faded shirts and baggy pants, has no cell phone or computer, drives an old Subaru and often thunders against the plagues of capitalism. It has long been rumored that the 83-year-old founder of the clothing brand outdoor Patagonia wanted to get rid of the company that is now worth 3 billion dollars and do a lot of charity. However, no one expected that Yvon would want to transform himself into a 21st century Saint Francis. Give it all away, for free. Indeed, even paying taxes. Donate its treasure to the fight for climate change.
Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, for-profit company headquartered in Ventura, California, selling more than $ 1 billion worth of ski jackets, hats and pants annually. With the blessing of the two forty-year-old sons of the founder, who will not receive the family business in inheritance but will remain on the payroll (guaranteed salary without the drama of managing anything), the Chouinard family has transferred the entire property to two new entities. : il Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. Every dollar not reinvested in the company will be distributed in the form of dividends to protect the planet.
I didn’t want to be a businessman. Now I could die tomorrow and the company will continue to do the right thing for the next 50 years, and I don’t have to be there, Yvon said in an exclusive interview with New York Times from his ranch in Jackson, Wyoming. In the 1960s he was a climbing pioneer in California’s Yosemite Valley, living in a car and eating cans of cat food that he bought for five cents each, he says in his official iconography. Then, 49 years ago he founded Patagonia. Becoming a billionaire seems to have grown tight. And so to his children Fletcher and Claire. The Patagonia Purpose Trust, which will be overseen by family members or their trustees, now owns all voting shares in the company (2% of total shares) and the legal framework that will protect Patagonia’s purpose and values from the capitalist drift that Chouinard abhors. The objective, the official statement reads, is to demonstrate that capitalism can be put at the service of the planet. Since the Chouinards have donated their shares to a fund, the family will pay about $ 17.5 million in taxes.
The Holdfast Collective owns all non-voting shares (98% of the total), and will use every dollar received by Patagonia to protect nature and biodiversity, support communities and fight the environmental crisis. According to projections released by the company, it will make available an annual dividend of 100 million dollars. Since Holdfast Collective will be able to provide unlimited political contributions, the family by law did not receive any tax benefit even for this donation.
It would have been easier (and cheaper) to sell the company or go public, and then fund environmental conservation initiatives, as Yvon’s best friend, Doug Tompkins, founder of clothing companies Esprit and The North Face, had done. But Chouinard didn’t trust him. Our sole shareholder is now the planet, we read on the Patagonia website where a letter from Chouinard was published, who had also sued the Trump administration, guilty of not protecting the Bears Ears monument. If we want to have a living and prosperous planet in another 50 years, we must all do what we can with the resources we have – he explains -. As a businessman, despite never wanting to be, I am doing my part.
September 15, 2022 (change September 15, 2022 | 20:34)
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