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Single Family Office Snapshots: Latest SFO Highlights

Alastair Graham, 21 September 2020

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This publication is starting a new series, regularly examining the activities of single family offices outside the US. The material, with a peerless level of detail, comes from Highworth Research, the UK-based organisation with which this news service is the exclusive media partner.

Highworth’s Single Family Offices Database, releases fortnightly news reports about initiatives and trends among single family offices outside the US. Here are some highlights from this week’s single family offices news and comment. These comments come from Alastair Graham, the founder of Highworth Research, the UK-based organisation with which this news service is the exclusive media partner. (To register on the Highworth database for a trial, click here.) (This news service recently spoke to Graham about his work, here in one of our regular Wealth Talk videos.)

Single family offices are trend-setters
Single family offices are sometimes thought to be conservative institutions where protection of wealth is seen as the priority. However, many single family offices are trend leaders, and among the early allocators of capital to initially unfashionable asset classes. Moreover, there are a number of single family offices the scale of whose early commitment to philanthropy long pre-date the Giving Pledge which, admirable initiative that it is, was founded only in 2010.

Cofra Holding & Anthos – strengthening allocations to impact investment
Several managers responsible for impact investment have recently joined the Brenninkmeijer family’s private investment company, Cofra Holding AG in Switzerland. These positions at Cofra echo the initiatives at the family’s Amsterdam-based family office and investment management firm, Anthos Fund & Asset Management BV, where from January 2020 the firm’s impact investment approach was emphasised with the establishment of a new multi-asset impact fund of funds strategy to be applied both to liquid and illiquid asset classes. 

In recent years Anthos has developed an increasingly strong commitment to impact investments. Marnix Vriezen, chief executive and chief investment officer of Anthos Asset Management has commented,

“Responsible investing is increasingly moving to the core of all our assets without compromising returns.” Anthos was an early mover into impact investment when in 2014 the firm established the Skopos Impact Fund, a global private fund which aimed to generate social and environmental as well as financial returns.

And what of those family offices going beyond impact to straight philanthropy? The range of philanthropic giving among single family offices could not be wider, from very little to massive commitment.

Single family offices donating over £1 billion to philanthropy
Almost all single family offices donate to charitable causes but very few in Europe have individually reached a total of over £1 billion ($1.29 billion) donated to philanthropy. Two of these are:

Innotech Advisers
Innotech is the family office of Lord David Sainsbury of the Sainsbury supermarket family. The market value of the family office’s portfolio rose from £577 million to £634 million in 2018 (2019 accounts not yet issued). Moreover, the financial endowment of David Sainsbury’s foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which was founded in 1967, rose to £442 million in 2019 from £423 million in the prior year. 

Innotech is one of a small group of family offices in Europe where philanthropy is a driving influence and the AuM of the Gatsby Foundation is growing to a similar scale as that of the Sainsbury family office. Since inception, David Sainsbury has given the Gatsby Foundation over £1 billion to distribute to philanthropic causes.

Wittington Investments Ltd
Wittington is the private investment company of the UK branch of the Weston family whose wealth derives from the Anglo-Canadian bakeries and retail group established by the late Garfield Weston. The family’s charitable trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, which was founded in 1958, holds 79.2 per cent of Wittington’s capital with the remaining 20.8 per cent held by 19 members of the Weston family. Dividends from Wittington are therefore paid primarily to the Foundation which in 2019 received income of £79.96 million and donated £79 million to nearly 2,000 charitable causes in the UK. 

In the 2019 financial year the Garfield Weston Foundation reported net assets of £9.9 billion, making it one of the largest family foundations in Europe. The value of the Foundation’s assets has tripled in the past five years. Since inception, the Garfield Weston Foundation has donated over £1 billion to philanthropic causes.

Delin Capital – riding the growth wave in European logistics
Investment in premium commercial real estate has always been a favourite asset class for family offices. Yet now the virus has cast a shadow over the future financial resilience of the office sector, and high street retail property’s future is looking grim. At present, however, there is a real estate winner, and that is logistics. 

There are a few single family offices which had the foresight to spot the promise of logistics, and one which did so back in 2012 was Delin Capital. It is the family office and private investment company of former Russian, now UK citizen, Igor Linshits. His is one of the few family offices which started to prioritize investment in UK and Continental European logistics eight years ago, before the online retail revolution had really started. 

Now Delin holds a portfolio of 36 distribution centre assets in Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and the Ukraine covering over 1 million square meters with net initial yields of 7.3 per cent or greater. Delin’s track record has attracted Blackstone Group as a co-investor.

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