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Ernesto Bertarelli

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Ernesto Bertarelli

Ernesto Bertarelli
Born Ernesto Bertarelli
(1965-09-22) 22 September 1965
Rome, Italy
Residence Gstaad
Nationality Swiss
Ethnicity Italian
Alma mater Babson College
Harvard Business School
Occupation Co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation
Known for Serono
America's Cup
Bertarelli Foundation
Net worth US$8.7 billion (April 2015)[1]
Spouse(s) Kirsty Roper (m. 2000)
Children 3

Ernesto Bertarelli (born 22 September 1965) is an Italian-born Swiss businessman and philanthropist.

In November 2012, the family's wealth was estimated at US$14.8 billion by Bloomberg.[2] According to Forbes, Bertarelli has an estimated net worth of $8.3 billion, as of March 2015.[1]


  • Biography 1
    • Career 1.1
    • Waypoint Capital 1.2
    • Sailing 1.3
    • Philanthropy 1.4
    • Honorary doctorate 1.5
    • Personal life 1.6
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Born in Rome, his family moved to Switzerland in 1977. He graduated from Babson College in 1989, and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1993.[1]


The former headquarters of Merck Serono in Geneva, which now hosts the Campus Biotech.

His grandfather founded Serono, a pharmaceutical company that moved from Rome to Switzerland. Bertarelli became CEO in 1996 and, along with his sister Dona, inherited ownership in 1998 on the death of his father. Changing the company's focus from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology, revenues increased from $809 million in 1996 to $2.8 billion in 2006. The company gained fame from its discovery of a natural hormone used in the treatment of female infertility, and its treatments for multiple sclerosis and growth hormone deficiency.

Bertarelli and his family sold the company to Merck KGaA of Germany in January 2007[3] for US$13.3 billion, forming the new company Merck-Serono. His family split an estimated $9 billion stake at that time, which added to previous share sales when the company floated on the NY stock market in 2001, which is now invested mainly through their Waypoint Capital investment vehicle. Bertarelli currently co-chairs - with his sister Dona - the Bertarelli Foundation which focuses on marine conservation and life sciences research.

Waypoint Capital

Between 2002 and 2009, he served as a board director of UBS AG.[4] Management of the family's wealth is mainly through the Waypoint Capital group, which is a business enterprise for the managers and advisers of the funds and investments associated with the Bertarellis.

The group is active in two areas: Life sciences and asset management, including real estate. Chaired by Ernesto Bertarelli, Waypoint is headquartered in Geneva, with offices in London, Jersey, Boston and Luxembourg. Waypoint's interests include Kedge Capital, an investment management group specializing in hedge funds, private equity and real estate; Ares Life Sciences, which builds on his family's extensive healthcare industry knowledge, investing across the spectrum of medical technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and healthcare; a new asset management business, Northill Capital; and a UK real estate investment fund, Crosstree.

On 22 May 2013, it was announced that a consortium led by Bertarelli and comprising Hansjörg Wyss, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Geneva had been successful in their bid for the former Merck Serono site in Geneva, which had been put up for sale when that company announced in April 2012 that it would be closing its Geneva headquarters.[5] The name of the joint initiative is Campus Biotech[6] and its intention is to turn the site into a ‘centre of excellence in the fields of healthcare, biotechnology and life sciences’. As part of this, the EPFL and the University of Geneva are expected to occupy some 15,000m2 of the site[7] and, in October 2013, it was announced that Campus Biotech will be the core of a new Swiss neuroscience valley with the research groups involved in the Human Brain Project[8] and the Blue Brain Project,[9] as well as most scientists from the Center for Neuroprosthetics, moving there in 2014.[10]


In 2000, Bertarelli founded the yachting syndicate Team Alinghi, which in 2003, representing the Société Nautique de Genève, won the Louis Vuitton Cup before beating Team New Zealand in Auckland to win the America's Cup. It was the first time a team had ever won the coveted sailing trophy on its first attempt, with the victory bringing the Cup to Europe for the first time. Team Alinghi hired sailors from many different nationalities, including Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth, respectively skipper and tactician of Team New Zealand's 2000 crew. Bertarelli was Team Alinghi's only Swiss national serving as navigator in 2003 and subsequently as an afterguard runner and grinder in 2007, when Team Alinghi defended the America's Cup in Valencia. On July 3, 2007, Alinghi beat Team New Zealand in race 7 by 1 second to retain the America's Cup, winning the series 5-2.[11]

In recognition of his success, in 2003 Bertarelli was named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur[12] by French President Jacques Chirac, and was given the Cavaliere di Gran Croce by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic.[13]

Société Nautique de Genève and Bertarelli's efforts to organize the 33rd America's Cup following their 2007 victory in Alinghi were subject to numerous legal challenges by the Golden Gate Yacht Club.[14] The race finally took place in February 2010, in Valencia, Spain. Bertarelli was the primary helmsman of his boat Alinghi 5, which lost both races against the challenger USA 17 by a considerable margin.[15][16]


Bertarelli and his family established a foundation in 1999 for promoting research and development in the field of male and female infertility, assisted reproduction technologies, andrology, genetics and endocrinology; supporting training, education and international and national exchanges in these areas through grants. The Bertarelli Foundation, in Trelex, Switzerland, merged into the Foundation FABER, in Lausanne, in 2006, and since 2008 a renewed Bertarelli Foundation has regrouped the family's numerous philanthropic initiatives in the fields of charity, health, sciences, sport and culture.

Some projects recently sponsored by the Bertarelli Foundation have been the research Centre for Neuroprosthetics at the EPFL in Lausanne;[17] the partnership with the British government to create the largest marine reserve in the world in Chagos,[18] in the Indian Ocean; a joint research and education programme in neuroscience between Harvard Medical School and EPFL;[19] the Swiss Sailing Grants in partnership with the Swiss Sailing Federation; and the Henna Pre-School in South Africa.

Honorary doctorate

Bertarelli was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Marine Sciences from Plymouth University in 2013.

Personal life

Bertarelli met Kirsty Roper, a former 1988 Miss UK and songwriter, while on holiday in Italy in 1997. The couple married in 2000, and have three children.[20] The couple live in Gstaad and also spend time in their house on the shores of Lake Geneva.[21]

In December 2008, Appledore Shipbuilders launched the hull of Project55, Bertarelli's new yacht,[22] which was completed as Vava II by Devonport Engineering Consortium Ltd at Plymouth in February 2012[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Ernesto Bertarelli". Forbes. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "The World’s 200 Richest People - Bloomberg". Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Startups, Entrepreneurs and Innovation - Upstart Business Journal". Upstart Business Journal. 1 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Search - UBS Global topics". 
  5. ^ Connolly, Allison (2012-04-24). "Merck KGaA to Close Merck Serono Site in Geneva, Cut Jobs".  
  6. ^ "Ernesto Bertarelli bought the building in Geneva Merck (translation)". Le Matin. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Wyss-Bertarelli project was selected by Merck (translation)". Tribune de Geneve. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Bluebrain - EPFL". 28 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Campus Biotech will be the core of the Swiss neuroscience valley". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Catégorie:Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur
  13. ^ "Comunicato: Presidenza della Repubblica". 29 May 2003. 
  14. ^ Scuttlebutt News: Cory E. Friedman - America's Cup
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Christopher. "Christopher :: Launching of EPFL Center for Neuroprostheses". 
  18. ^ "Billionaire saves marine reserve plans". London:  
  19. ^ Neuroengineering program is focus | Harvard Gazette
  20. ^ "Kirsty Roper". London:  
  21. ^ Longmore, Andrew (2008-11-02). "Ernesto Bertarelli: making waves". London:  
  22. ^ "Right to be proud of the superyacht". 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  23. ^ Orr, James (2012-03-06). "Largest British-built private yacht sets sail for Caribbean". London:  

External links

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