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# 78 Ernesto Bertarelli & family $19.6B

Random fact: Bought back Serono's Geneva headquarters in 2013.

Overview

Bertarelli inherited Geneva-based drug manufacturer Serono with his sister, Dona. The family sold its stake in the company for 10.7 billion Swiss francs ($8.6 billion) in 2006. The siblings have interests in real estate, hedge funds and health care. Bertarelli also owns sailing team Alinghi that twice won the America's Cup.

As of :
Last change No change
YTD change -$1.55B ( -7.3%)
Biggest asset Cash
Country / Region Switzerland
Age 56
Industry Diversified
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Ernesto Bertarelli & family's net worth of $19.6B can buy ...

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of U.S. existing home sales
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Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
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Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of the Bertarelli family fortune is derived from a 65% stake in drugmaker Serono that was sold to Merck for 10.7 billion Swiss francs ($8.6 billion) in 2006, according to a company statement. Almost $1 billion was collected from the sale of Serono shares in a 2000 initial public offering, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Since the sale to Merck, the wealth has been moved into hedge funds, private equity and real estate through Geneva-based investment vehicle B-Flexion, previously known as Waypoint Capital.

The family has disclosed investments that are valued independently. The rest are valued using an analysis of the Serono proceeds, disclosed asset sales and purchases, taxes and market performance based on a hybrid of indexes that capture sectors the family is known to invest in, including Swiss real estate, hedge funds, private equity and European health-care companies.

The entire fortune is attributed to Ernesto, including stakes held by sister, Dona, and mother, Maria Iris, to reflect his control of the investments. The Bertarelli family was involved with Serono going back three generations and the analysis assumes that the family has no partners.

Property in London owned through Crosstree Real Estate is valued using purchase prices reported in commercial-property tracker, CoStar, and indexed to the performance of London office properties, according to data compiled by researcher Real Capital Analytics. 

Geneva-based Ares Life Sciences was established in 2008 and owns stakes in European life sciences companies. It agreed in March 2019 to take allergy medicine manufacturer Stallergenes Greer private and in April 2022 agreed to sell health-care services firm Affidea for an undisclosed sum.

Biography

Birthdate: 9/22/1965
Family: Divorced, 3 children
Education: Babson College, Harvard Business School

Ernesto and Dona Bertarelli were born in Rome, to Fabio and Maria Iris Bertarelli. Father Fabio worked for Serono, a pharmaceutical company controlled by the Vatican that developed the hormonal fertility drug Pergonal. By the early 1970s, Bertarelli took majority control of Serono by acquiring shares on the open market and renamed it Ares-Serono. He moved the business -- and his family -- to Geneva in 1977.

A year later, the world's first test-tube baby was born to parents using Pergonal. The company shot to prominence, and sold shares in an initial public offering on the Swiss stock exchange, in 1987. It released Gonal-F in 1996, a synthetic infertility drug to replace Pergonal, which required the harvesting of human urine. That same year, Fabio Bertarelli, ill with cancer, handed over control of the company to his 31-year-old son, Ernesto.

The company sold several successful drugs in the late 1990s. Among them were Rebif, a multiple sclerosis medication, and Saizen, which treated growth hormone deficiency in children. Serono sold additional shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 2000, for $1.8 billion. The Bertarellis sold the family's 64.5 percent stake in the company to Merck KGaA for $8.6 billion, in September 2006.

Ernesto now manages the family's assets as chairman of Geneva-based Waypoint Capital, under which sit several holding companies, including Jersey-based investment management firm Kedge Capital and the family's London asset management business Northill. His yacht-racing team, Alinghi, was the first European team to win the America's Cup, in 2003, and successfully defended its title in 2007. Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison's yacht club sued multiple times over Alinghi's proposed format for the 2010 America's Cup, which the Swiss team, with Bertarelli at the helm, would eventually lose to its American rival. Bertarelli chose not to race in the 2013 America's Cup and his team continues to participate in other major race events.

Sister Dona is also an avid sailor and competes on an international women's team that races on Lake Geneva during regatta season. Her catamaran, Ladycat, won the Bol d'Or Mirabaud race in 2010 and she founded sailing team Spindrift in 2011. She is co-president of the Bertarelli Foundation and also owns the Grand Hotel Park in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Milestones
  • 1965 Ernesto Bertarelli born in Rome.
  • 1995 Takes over from father to become Serono chief executive.
  • 2000 Serono raises $1.8 billion in an offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 2006 Sells Serono to German drugmaker Merck for $8.6 billion.