Net assets of Chuck Feeney charity decline by $1.2bn

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Irish Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Barry O’Halloran.


THE VALUE of the assets held by Irish-American Chuck Feeney’s charity fell by $1.2 billion (€814 million) between 2007 and 2008, according to the organisation’s own figures.


Combined financial statements for 2007 and 2008 for Atlantic Philanthropies show that the value of its net assets fell to $2.3 billion at the end of last year from $3.5 billion 12 months earlier.


Atlantic Philanthropies is a collection of inter-related charitable organisations created by billionaire Chuck Feeney, an Irish-American who made his original fortune from a chain of duty-free shops.


The group has branches around the world, including in this country, where it has made donations to charities on both sides of the Border.


Mr Feeney set up the organisation in the 1980s and transferred a large part of his own assets to the foundation after providing for himself and his family.


The group operates as a charitable foundation, which typically invests money and uses the cash generated to donate to good causes.


According to the website of Atlantic Philanthropies, the value of its investment portfolio declined by 15.8 per cent last year. It had set a benchmark of a 6 per cent fall.


However, a spokesman last night said the foundation was pleased with the performance of its investments in light of what happened in world markets.


Atlantic Philanthropies invests in funds, which in turn have their own managers and investment strategies. Its assets include marketable securities, that is shares, debt securities and other instruments traded on markets; private equity funds and hedge funds.


Its investments also include Bermuda-registered General Atlantic Group, part of Mr Feeney’s original business, which has interests in hotels and real estate. However, a spokesman said this was a small element of the overall portfolio.


The group’s spokesman said investment returns do not have a significant impact on how much it hands out in grants during a given year as it is a “spend-down” foundation, which means its ultimate aim is to give all its money away.


Mr Feeney is an active board member, and directs certain donations from the group’s funds as a founding chairman.


Much of its Irish donations have been in the area of education.


© 2009 The Irish Times

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