Oil, gas & gold: the investors funding the election campaigns
An Unearthed analysis reveals the financial holdings of those making large donations to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats this election
The Conservative election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of pounds from wealthy investors in the global fossil fuels industry, according to a new analysis by Unearthed.
Some of the companies and projects benefiting from donors’ investments are opening up new fossil fuel reserves – even as the world battles climate change and the UK prepares to host a crunch summit next year.
One of the Tory’s major donors also runs a hedge fund that holds significant investments in a major weapons manufacturer and a mining giant.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have taken a significant donation from a subsidiary of a hedge fund that has a major stake in the energy firm being blamed for California’s deadly wildfires and another stake in a French oil services firm.
The analysis looked at donations to political parties over £50,000 during the first three weeks of the election campaign and the financial holdings of investment companies, as collected and presented by Bloomberg.
Labour, SNP and the Greens have not received any large donations from companies or investment firms so far during this campaign, with Labour heavily reliant on backing from trade unions.
Here’s what investors donating to the Tory and Lib Dem election campaigns are putting their money into:
- Andrew Law, who has so far donated £208,500 to the Conservative party’s election campaign, is the chairman, CEO and major shareholder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates.
- Caxton has £27m invested in Cheniere Energy (CE), which became the first firm to export shale gas from the US in 2016. CE remains one of the country’s top consumers of the gas, with Shell one of its biggest customers.
- Law’s fund also holds a £4m stake in Northrop Grumman, one of the world’s top arms manufacturers.
- Caxton Associates also has shares worth £4m in Newmont Goldcorp, the biggest gold mining company in the world. Newmont is currently embroiled in a legal case in the US, regarding how the family of Peruvian smallholder Máxima Acuña Atalaya de Chaupe was treated by security forces employed by the company.
- Attestor Services, a subsidiary of asset management company Attestor Capital,is one of the biggest donors to the Liberal Democrats, having given £75,000 to the party.
- Attestor Capital currently holds a £81m stake in PG&E, an energy utility company currently being held to account for failing to inspect and maintain the equipment that sparked California’s deadliest ever wildfire. The disaster, which killed 85 people last year, was the latest in a series of destructive fires that had been linked to PG&E. The firm has not commented following a request from Unearthed.
- Attestor Capital also has £98m – making it the second largest shareholder – in CGG SA, a French firm which has recently carried out surveys for Brazilian company Petrobras and BP.
- The hedge fund headed up by long-time Tory donor Jonathan Wood is a major investor in Rockhopper Exploration, a British oil and gas firm that owns offshore licences near the Falkland islands.
- Wood’s fund, SRM Global, owns shares worth £3m in Rockhopper. Wood has so far donated £500,000 to the Conservative election campaign.
- The Conservative campaign also received a £258,500 donation from Shore Capital, an investment group which has recently underwritten oil and gas deals in Africa
- James Adam Reuben has donated £248,000 to the Tories in this election. Reuben is a director at Reuben Brothers Resources Group, a branch of his billionaire father’s private equity company that invests in mining, coal and renewable energy.
- Lakshmi Mittal, together with his wife Usha, has so far given £150,000 to the Tories. Mittal, an early backer of Boris Johnson’s bid to become party leader, is the CEO and founder of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel company. With a fortune of more than £10bn, he is the 11th richest person in the world, according to this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. Globally the steel industry is responsible for 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to ArcelorMittal’s own website. Mittal resides in London and owns an Italian palazzo-style mansion, nicknamed the “Taj Mittal”, in Kensington Palace Gardens.
- Pelham Capital Investments Ltd has donated £50,000 to the Conservative Party. They are the dominant shareholder in Pelham Capital, an investment management firm with £97m invested in OCI NV, a major producer of industrial chemicals. Other significant holdings include: £92m in Yara International a chemical producer for the agriculture industry; £41m in Hurricane Energy, an oil company drilling new fields in the North Sea; £38m in Energean Oil & Gas, which operates in the Mediterrean and the Middle-East, and £17m in Diversified Gas & Oil, a producer operating in the US.
- Other donations to the Conservative campaign include £75,000 from Unatrac, which provides equipment to the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, Russia and Africa.
- Italian entrepreneur Davide Serra is a Liberal Democrat donor. His firm Algebris UK has £3m worth of shares in Chesapeake Energy a fracking pioneer in the US. Serra has given £60,000 to the Lib Dems’ campaign.
- A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats responded to Unearthed findings by pointing us in the direction of green commitments in the party’s manifesto, including a proposed ban on fracking in the UK and a requirement that all companies registered in the UK set targets in line with the Paris agreement and “report on their implementation”.
- Algebris told Unearthed that Davide Serra’s donations were personal and that Algebris’ exposure to Chesapeake Energy is roughly 0.000125 of its assets. They added that Algebris is fully committed to and actively embeds ESG considerations into the investment processes for the funds it manages and as part of its wider activities. The Company has signed the UN PRI and is planting 25k trees from December 2019 in order to achieve CO2 neutrality.
At the time of writing Unearthed had received no response from the Conservative Party, despite making several requests for comment.