Mike Bloomberg plans to leave company to Bloomberg Philanthropies

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Billionaire Mike Bloomberg plans to leave his business empire to his philanthropic organization—in what would be one of the largest charitable donations in history.

“He has committed to giving the company away to Bloomberg Philanthropies when he dies, if not sooner,” company spokesman Ty Trippet told the Financial Times in a piece published this week.

Bloomberg, who turned 81 in February, is worth about $94 billion. He will likely transfer ownership of his eponymous company to a trust, overseen by friends and family, that will finance Bloomberg Philanthropies for perpetuity. The organization focuses on education, the arts, the environment, government innovation, and public health.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard made a similar move last year with his outdoor clothing company, handing it to a trust that will use profits to help fight climate change. 

But it’s hardly a common tactic. As Chouinard commented at the time, “We are turning capitalism on its head by making the Earth our only shareholder.” 

Such an arrangement by Bloomberg, who runs one of the world’s most valuable private companies, would be on a much larger scale. Bloomberg Philanthropies doled out roughly $1.6 billion last year, while Patagonia estimates it’ll give its trust $100 million annually, the FT reports.

Fortune reached out to Bloomberg for comments outside normal business hours but did not receive an immediate reply.

Bloomberg is already well known for his philanthropy. In 2010, he signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment for billionaires to donate most of their wealth to address societal needs. In 2019, he announced a $500 million investment to combat climate change. 

Some highlights from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ giving:

Earlier this year, it announced a pledge of $420 million over four years to an initiative to reduce tobacco use, bringing its total commitment more than $1.5 billion since 2005.

Last November, it announced Public Art Challenge, encouraging mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to apply for up to $1 million in funding to “create temporary public art projects that address important civic issues.”

The month before that, it announced an additional $50 million commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, bringing its total to $225 million since 2013.

Last September, it vowed an investment of more than $200 million to protect the ocean, coastal communities, and marine ecosystems, noting “the health of the ocean is critically important to people’s lives and livelihoods around the world.” 

While there’s little doubt about the direction Bloomberg Philanthropies would take given more funding, uncertainty still surrounds Bloomberg’s preference for his successor at the business. 

According to the FT, Jean-Paul Zammitt, who as chief commercial officer has been in charge of terminal sales, is regarded as the most likely candidate to take over. But Bloomberg, known for being private and patient, is keeping his team guessing—and may opt for an outsider.

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