Multi-millionaires Branson and Caudwell pledge half their fortunes to charity

More of the world's richest entrepreneurs have joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Giving Pledge as the Microsoft founder lifts his 'US millionaires only' ban.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
The Giving Pledge was founded by the Gates family back in 2010. Its aim: to convince America’s super-rich to part with at least half their fortunes in the aid of various charities. After a slow start, the initiative is now expanding apace (especially once Warren Buffet signed up as co-founder) and Gates has now extended the invitation to join beyond US borders.

As of today, there are 12 new non-US signatories from eight different countries added to the pledge. From the UK, our own Richard Branson is planning to part with half of his Virgin billions, while John Caudwell, the billionaire mobile phone entrepreneur and 13th richest man in the UK, is also sharing his estimated $2.5bn fortune. Other UK pledgers include Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Mo Ibrahim, and David Sainsbury.

Old Beardy says of his pledge, ‘Stuff really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters. Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this.’

But it’s not just British billionaires indulging in a spot of altruism. In Thailand, Vincent Tan has put his name down, from Down Under, Andrew and Nicola Forrest, from South Africa super-rich couple Patrice and Precious Motsepe, also Hasso Plattner from Germany, Vladimir Potanin from Russia, Azim Premji from India and Ukraine’s second-richest man, industrialist Victor Pinchuk. This takes the group’s numbers to 105 in total.

This means there is a sizeable chunk of change going to good causes in the not-so-distant future.  Buffett, the fourth-richest person on the planet, has a net worth of $53.5bn, while Gates, 57 and the second-richest person on earth, has a fortune of $66.2bn.

‘I am excited about the conversations and ideas that will happen thanks to this impressive group of international philanthropists,’ said Gates in a statement today.

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