Billionaire Matt Moulding has plans to transfer shares worth around $137 million to his foundation in support of his charitable efforts, a spokesperson has confirmed. The U.K. e-commerce tycoon became a billionaire in September 2020 after listing retailer The Hut Group on the London Stock Exchange. Forbes estimates his net worth at $2.9 billion.
Moulding’s move into philanthropy, according to London’s Evening Standard, followed a note from billionaire Bill Gates, congratulating him on the September IPO and asking him about his plans for his new pile of cash. In 2010, Gates cofounded The Giving Pledge, which asks billionaires to commit to donating at least half of their wealth to charity.
Moulding plans to transfer 14 million of his 319 million shares to the foundation, leaving him with about 305 million shares of the online retail business he founded in 2004. The good PR couldn’t stop shares tumbling nearly 7% Thursday, however, after The Hut Group announced operating losses of $665 million in 2020, wiping an estimated $200 million from Moulding’s estimated net worth according to Forbes real-time billionaire tracker.
Foundations & Philanthropy
Once the shares are transferred, Moulding will become one of the few British billionaire entrepreneurs to embrace the philanthropic giving made by U.S. headliners like Bill Gates and, more recently, MacKenzie Scott, who gave away a massive $5.8 billion last year but ended up even richer thanks to the rise in Amazon’s share price over the year.
MORE FOR YOU
Although Moulding is yet to sign the Giving Pledge, he told the Evening Standard that U.K. billionaires were playing catch-up with the U.S. because large British companies are still typically run by management teams rather than by the founding entrepreneur. “The more growth companies we can get listed in the U.K., the more philanthropy will come through naturally,” he said. “In America, the numbers are just astounding and the more money, the more philanthropy.”
At the start of the pandemic, The Hut Group put together a $13 million aid package to support vulnerable communities across Manchester and the rest of the U.K.
The Moulding Foundation, a separate entity from The Hut Group and the recipient of the $137 million gift from Moulding, has not yet confirmed the specific focus of its philanthropy, with the decision makers at the foundation having only recently been announced. Regulatory filings in the U.K. show the appointment of two new directors of the foundation. Matt Moulding ended his term as a director on April 13.
The philanthropy announcement came alongside The Hut Group’s preliminary results for 2020, showing growth throughout the year under lockdown. The group’s revenues increased by 41.5%, from $1.57 billion to $2.22 billion, as customer orders rose from 4.8 million to 13.1 million. Still, operating losses hit $665 million last year, as the group continues its aggressive global expansion into ecommerce.
Even with today’s near 5% drop, shares of The Hut Group have risen 13% since they were listed in September, marking a solid return for Moulding for the first year as a listed company. An even better deal for him: He got a $1.1 billion bonus—approved by shareholders–when the equity value of The Hut Group’s listed and unlisted shares hit a target price milestone in November 2020. The $137 million Moulding plans to transfer to charity would represent only 12% of that huge payday.