Oil tycoon plans charity to help immigrants to assimilate
Sylvia Pfeifer, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:54pm BST 26/05/2007
The billionaire head of London's largest independent oil and gas company, Addax Petroleum, which listed on the stock exchange last week, has pledged to give a significant portion of his fortune to a charitable foundation.
Jean Claude Gandur, whose personal stake in Addax is valued at around 725m but whose total fortune is estimated at more than 1bn, said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that he intended to set up a charity dedicated to helping immigrants assimilate better in countries in western Europe.
Gandur, who is Swiss but based in London, said that while many charities focused on helping the poor in countries like Africa, there was also a role for private capital to help those closer to home.
“I think it is also the duty of the state to help those people [who have come from all over the world] to integrate and that is why I believe that even in countries like Switzerland, private capital can help in setting up a special schooling system to help them learn French faster for example, to help them feel more comfortable in the country in which they live,” he said.
“I have a lot of sympathy for Africa, I am very respectful for what Africa has given me but I think that we also have a duty vis–vis the countries where we have been educated, where we grew up. It is not something we have to do abroad, it is also something we have to do next door,” he added.
The remainder of the money will go towards an art foundation, as well as to his family.
Gandur, who began his career at commodity traders Philipp Brothers, has built his fortune investing in Africa's energy markets.
The Addax & Oryx Group (AOG) which he heads and in which he is the principal partner, was set up some 20 years ago.
Today, apart from its stake in Addax Petroleum, the group's activities span mining, oil trading and providing services such as storage to the oil industry.
Despite his longer-term plans for the foundation, Gandur said that for the moment his focus was on building Addax into a key player in the oil and gas industry.
Valued at 2.9bn, Addax is bigger than both Cairn Energy and Tullow Oil. It already produces 116,000 barrels of oil per day from countries including Nigeria and Gabon, but the real attraction for investors is its stake in a giant field, Taq Taq, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Gandur said he would also use Addax's shares as acquisition currency to snap up both assets and companies. “We have an appetite for good small companies focused on Africa,” he said.