‘Now the Earth is our only shareholder’

‘Now the Earth is our only shareholder’

Patagonian founder Yvon Chouinard and his family have sold the company to a non-profit environmental fund.

The company will continue to be an active producer of clothing, camping supplies and other goods, but all profits will go to organizations to fight the climate crisis and pursue other environmental goals.

The move is a bold new step for a company that has been playing a leading activist role for years, particularly for environmental causes.

“Instead of extracting value from nature and turning it into wealth for investors,” Chouinard wrote in a public letter, “we will use the wealth created by Patagonia to protect the source of all wealth.”

The company’s vote will go to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which will “protect the company’s values.” The non-voting shares will go to Holdfast Collective, a non-profit organization that will use the company’s profits each year for environmental shares.

When deciding what to do with the company, Mr. Chouinard wrote that neither selling the company nor donating profits nor going public seemed like good ways to ensure the company continued its role as an activist.

“To tell you the truth, there weren’t any good options available,” he said. “So, we created our … ours.”

Mr. Chouinard, now 83, is a former mountaineer and founded Patagonia nearly 50 years ago. Since then, the Ventura, California-based company has grown into a multi-billion dollar company that sells marketed supplies for outdoor enthusiasts.

Yvon Chouinard seen in a video from Patagonia to announce his decision to sell the company to an environmental and non-profit fund (Patagonia)

Yvon Chouinard seen in a video from Patagonia to announce his decision to sell the company to an environmental and non-profit fund (Patagonia)

“I never wanted to be a businessman,” he wrote. “I started out as a craftsman, making climbing equipment for me and my friends, then I moved on to clothing.”

In recent years, especially during the Trump administration, the company’s activist role has become much more important.

In 2018, the company said it would donate all money earned from the tax cuts signed by then President Trump to environmental causes. And in 2017, Patagonia joined a lawsuit to prevent the federal government from shrinking Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Landmarks.

The Holdfast Collective, the new nonprofit that will use the company’s earnings, is a 501 (c) (4), a type of nonprofit that can make political donations. As a result, the Chouinard family did not receive any tax breaks for their donation to the group, according to reports. The New York Times.

The family also paid millions in taxes for their donation to the fund that will control the voting shares, the newspaper added.

In 2002, Chouinard and Patagonia were one of the co-founders of “1% for the Planet”, a collective of companies that donate 1% of their sales to environmental causes.

“The current system of capitalism has gained its gains at enormous cost, including growing inequality and large-scale uncompensated environmental damage. The world is literally on fire, ”said Charles Conn, chairman of the Patagonian board of directors.

“Companies that create the next model of capitalism through a deep commitment to purpose will attract more investments, better employees and greater customer loyalty. They are the future of business if we want to build a better world, and that future starts with what Yvon is doing now. “

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