‘Putin’s number one foreign enemy’ to address Aussie finance event

American-born Bill Browder, co-founder of investment fund Hermitage Capital, was the biggest foreign investor in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed, before he was expelled and named a “threat to national security” in 2005 after highlighting corruption.

Browder will be the headline speaker at the Sohn philanthropic conference in November, alongside The Guardian former Moscow bureau chief Luke Harding, who was expelled from Russia in 2011.

Barrenjoey co-executive chairman Guy Fowler, a co-founder of the Sohn event, said that as well as the human tragedy of the Ukraine war, the conflict was having a major influence on global markets, and what happened next was a key issue for investors.

“The combination of Bill and Luke, they are very well-placed to talk about and give some insights on how that plays out,” Fowler said. “And that’s probably the one big question mark on investors’ minds at the moment.”

Sohn Hearts and Minds is a philanthropic initiative from the finance sector, which has raised more than $40 million for medical research since its inception. Most of this funding comes from a listed investment company that invests in the stock ideas put forward by fund managers at an annual conference. The company donates 1.5 per cent of net tangible assets a year to medical research organisations, instead of charging management fees.

This masthead’s owner, Nine, is a media partner of the Sohn event.

The ASX-listed Sohn investment portfolio dropped 33.6 per cent in the year to June due to its skew towards “growth” stocks, a result that Chris Cuffe, chairman of Hearts and Minds Investments, last week said was “very unsatisfactory”. Cuffe said the company had changed the management of the portfolio and its selection process for fund managers in a bid to better balance the risks in the portfolio with its “high conviction growth mandate”.

In an interview alongside Fowler, Cuffe pointed to the Ukraine conflict’s impact on energy markets. He said a crucial question for markets was whether the surge in inflation would be temporary or longer-lasting.

“Every professional investor I know is thinking about inflation and whether the world is heading into recession, and interest rates. It’s those three together,” Cuffe said.

Browder, who has previously been singled out by Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly, told a US podcast in 2020 that some people regarded him as “Putin’s number one foreign enemy”, due to his role in creating the Magnitsky Act. This is a US law that allows sanctions on foreigners involved in human rights abuses.

Browder said in a statement he was privileged to present at the Sohn event, and he welcomed Australia’s introduction of Magnitsky-style laws last year.

“In the context of Russia’s current actions, targeted financial sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans remain an effective means of holding perpetrators of serious human rights violations to account,” Browder said.

The conference will take place in Hobart on November 18 after being held online for the past two years; Browder will address the event remotely.


Disclaimer: This material has been prepared by The Age, published on 31 August 2022. HM1 is not responsible for the content of linked websites or content prepared by third party. The inclusion of these links and third-party content does not in any way imply any form of endorsement by HM1 of the products or services provided by persons or organisations who are responsible for the linked websites and third-party content. This information is for general information only and does not consider the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. Before making an investment decision, you should read the relevant disclosure document (if appropriate) and seek professional advice to determine whether the investment and information is suitable for you.

Recent Posts

Read the latest insights
A curated list of HM1 investor updates, portfolio news and other interesting articles.
Read More