Biography Philanthropists

Ernesto Bertarelli

Ernesto Bertarelli
Born Ernesto Bertarelli
22 September 1965 (age 53)
Rome, Italy
Residence Gstaad
Nationality Swiss
Alma mater Babson College
Harvard Business School
Occupation Chairman, Waypoint Capital Group; Co-Chair, Bertarelli Foundation
Known for Serono
America’s Cup
Bertarelli Foundation
Net worth US$8.5 billion (June 2018)[1]

CHF13.5 billion [2]

Kirsty Roper (m. 2000)
Children 3

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

The 2017 edition of the Sunday Times Rich List estimated the family’s wealth at £11.5 billion and noted an increase of £1.72 billion since the previous year.[3] Swiss’s magazine BILANZ estimated the family fortune at CHF13.5 billion.[4] According to Forbes, Bertarelli has an estimated net worth of $8.5 billion, as of June 2018.[1]


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


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

His grandfather, Pietro, joined Serono, a pharmaceutical company founded in 1906. In 1935 he became the company’s managing director, a position he was succeeded in by his son, Fabio Bertarelli, in 1965.[5][6] 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[7] 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 2000, which is now invested mainly through his Waypoint Capital investment vehicle. Bertarelli currently co-chairs – with his sister Dona – the Bertarelli Foundation which focuses on marine conservation and neuroscience research.[8]

Waypoint Capital[edit]

Between 2002 and 2009, Bertarelli served as a board director of UBS AG.[9] Management of the family’s wealth is mainly through the Waypoint Capital group, which invests through its owned-businesses that are active in asset management, including real estate, and healthcare. These businesses include Kedge Capital, an investment management group specialising in hedge funds, private equity and real estate; Northill Capital, an asset management business; a UK real estate investment fund , Crosstree; and Gurnet Point Capital, a fund based in Boston that invests in healthcare and life science business.[10][11][12]

As well as these businesses, Waypoint, which is headquartered in Geneva, with offices in London, Jersey, Boston and Luxembourg, also manages investment holdings itself, including healthcare provider Affidea, medical technology company Esaote, and allergy immunotherapy group Stallergenes-Greer.[13][14][15]

Campus Biotech[edit]

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.[16] The name of the joint initiative is Campus Biotech[17] 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[18] 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[19] and the Blue Brain Project,[20] as well as most scientists from the Center for Neuroprosthetics, moving there in 2014.[21]


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.[22]

In recognition of his success, in 2003 Bertarelli was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur[23] by French President Jacques Chirac, and was given the Cavaliere di Gran Croce by Carlo Azeglio CiampiPresident of the Italian Republic.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26][27]

Alinghi now competes in the Extreme Sailing Series, which it most recently won in 2016, and in the summer-long, one-class D35 championship on Lake Geneva.[28][29]


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;[30] the partnership with the British government to create the largest marine reserve in the world in Chagos,[31] in the Indian Ocean; a joint research and education programme in neuroscience between Harvard Medical School and EPFL;[32] the Swiss Sailing Grants in partnership with the Swiss Sailing Federation; and the Henna Pre-School in South Africa and a partnership with the Stroke-on-Trent YMCA that is led by Kirsty Bertarelli.[33]

Honorary doctorate[edit]

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

Personal life[edit]

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.[34] The couple live in Gstaad and also spend time in their house on the shores of Lake Geneva.[35]

In December 2008, Appledore Shipbuilders launched the hull of Project55, Bertarelli’s new yacht,[36] which was completed as Vava II by Devonport Engineering Consortium Ltd at Plymouth in February 2012[37]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c “Forbes profile: Ernesto Bertarelli”Forbes. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  2. Jump up^ “Übersicht der 300 Reichsten 2017”Bilanz.
  3. Jump up^ “The Sunday Times Rich List 2017” Archived from the original on 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  4. Jump up^ “300 Reichste 2017 – Bilanz” (in German). Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  5. Jump up^ “C&EN: COVER STORY – SERONO SETS SAIL” Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  6. Jump up^ “Les Bertarelli et la pharmaceutique, une histoire de plus d’un demi-siècle” (in French). Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  7. Jump up^ “Startups, Entrepreneurs and Innovation – Upstart Business Journal”Upstart Business Journal. 1 May 2015.
  8. Jump up^ “Health & Neuroscience – Fondation Bertarelli” Retrieved 2017-10-11.
  9. Jump up^ “Search – UBS Global topics”
  10. Jump up^ “Crosstree Real Estate Partners | Fresh , versatile capital and perspective” Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  11. Jump up^ “Kedge Capital Fund Management Limited: Private Company Information – Bloomberg” Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  12. Jump up^ “Gurnet Point L.P. Completes Acquisition of Innocoll Holdings plc” Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  13. Jump up^ “Project to Combine Stallergenes and Greer Laboratories: The New Board of Ares Allergy Appoints Fereydoun Firouz Chairman and CEO | FierceBiotech” Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  14. Jump up^ “Bertarelli’s Waypoint to mop up remaining Euromedic stake – source”Reuters.
  15. Jump up^ “Esaote | Waypoint Capital” Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  16. Jump up^ Connolly, Allison (2012-04-24). “Merck KGaA to Close Merck Serono Site in Geneva, Cut Jobs”Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  17. Jump up^ “Ernesto Bertarelli bought the building in Geneva Merck (translation)”. Le Matin. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  18. Jump up^ “The Wyss-Bertarelli project was selected by Merck (translation)”. Tribune de Geneve. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  19. Jump up^[permanent dead link]
  20. Jump up^ “Bluebrain – EPFL” 28 April 2015.
  21. Jump up^ “Campus Biotech will be the core of the Swiss neuroscience valley”
  22. Jump up^ “America’s Cup 2007 – America’s Cup Match Race Results and News Stories-from CupInfo” Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  23. Jump up^ fr:Catégorie:Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur
  24. Jump up^ “Comunicato: Presidenza della Repubblica”. 29 May 2003. Archived from the original on 2012-03-01.
  25. Jump up^ Scuttlebutt News: Cory E. Friedman – America’s Cup
  26. Jump up^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  27. Jump up^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  28. Jump up^ “Alinghi returns to defend Extreme Sailing Series™ title in 2017” Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  29. Jump up^ “Alinghi wins 2016 Extreme Sailing Series Title >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News”Scuttlebutt Sailing News. 2016-12-11. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  30. Jump up^ Christopher. “Christopher :: Launching of EPFL Center for Neuroprostheses”
  31. Jump up^ “Billionaire saves marine reserve plans”. London: The Independent. 2010-09-12.
  32. Jump up^ Neuroengineering program is focus | Harvard Gazette
  33. Jump up^ “Songstress releases festive single with YMCA North Staffordshire choir”YMCA England & Wales.
  34. Jump up^ Sherwin, Adam (3 March 2013). “It’s not about the money… super-rich Kirsty Bertarelli turns to”The Independent.
  35. Jump up^ Longmore, Andrew (2008-11-02). “Ernesto Bertarelli: making waves”. London: Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  36. Jump up^ “Right to be proud of the superyacht”. 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2009-04-25.[permanent dead link]
  37. Jump up^ Orr, James (2012-03-06). “Largest British-built private yacht sets sail for Caribbean”. London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-08-05.