Patagonia founder gives away company to help fight climate crisis

BENGALURU – Mr Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire founder of outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, said on Wednesday that he is giving away the company to a trust that will use its profit to fight the climate crisis.

Instead of selling the company or taking it public, Mr Chouinard, who became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park and has a net worth of US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion), is transferring his family’s ownership of the company to a trust and a non-profit organisation.

“Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis,” he wrote in an open letter on the company’s website.

“Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we will use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”

Patagonia will continue to operate as a private, for-profit corporation but the Chouinard family, which controlled the company until last month, no longer owns the company, according to The New York Times, which reported the move earlier on Wednesday.

The company’s voting stock is being transferred to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, while non-voting stock has been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The trust will be overseen by members of the family.

While rich individuals often make financial contributions to causes, the Times said the structure of the Patagonia founder’s action meant he and his family would get no financial benefit – and, in fact, would face a tax bill from the donation. REUTERS