Ronald Cohen

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Sir Ronald Cohen is a pioneer of Private Equity (PE) in the UK. He is reportedly close to Gordon Brown.[1] He is chairman of the Portland Trust and Bridges Ventures, a director of Social Finance UK and Social Finance US and is also advising the current UK Government on the establishment of The Big Society Bank. [2]


Cohen believes passionately that PE is good for the economy and, according to journalist Robert Peston, has 'lobbied tirelessly for favourable tax treatment for the industry he helped to create'.

Brown was a sympathetic listener... and gave to the UK one of the most generous tax regimes.. of any developed economy. And for venture capital and private equity, the great news was that the tax rate on carried interest - the millions earned by PE partners from their share of the gains on big deals - would also be 10 per cent. At the time Cohen was over the moon. His lobbying had been extremely effective.[3]

A further change in 2007 raised the rate of capital gains tax to 18 per cent; still a lot less than most people pay on earnings.

Cohen has non-domicile status and pays tax on just some of his earnings.

(See also Affiliations below.)

Political funding

Cohen is said to be close to Tony Blair but closer to Gordon Brown, according to Robert Peston's 2008 book, Who Runs Britain?. 'On 11 October 2006, Brown hosted a party in 11 Downing Street to celebrate Bridges' initial success.'

He has contributed £1.8m to the Labour Party according to Robert Peston's 2008 book, Who Runs Britain?.[4]

  • He pledged £100,000 to the Labour Party on 16/4/99, £100,000 in 1997.
  • He received a knighthood in the 2000 New Years Honours List
  • He gave a further £100,000 to the Labour Party in June 2001

Tony Blair is reported to have turned to Cohen for help with fundraising for Labour before the 2005 election[5]


He was President of the Oxford University Union and went to Harvard Business School in America. He was one of the Bioscience bosses who wrote a letter to the Financial Times in May 2001 in support of the Labour Party.


Apax Partners

Apax Partners invested in Autonomy, Britain's most successful internet company, making $600 million from a $3 million investment. They are also backers of Jazztel, a Spanish business phone services company and an Israeli company Commtouch, an e-mail provider.


Cohen is Chairman of hedge fund Portland Capital and founder of Bridges Capital, a fund 'with a social purpose'. In 2002 he founded, and became Chairman of, Apax Partners & Company, an international PE company which manages $7 billion of investment. He was knighted in 2000. Cohen left Apax Partners in 2005.[8] Before founding Apax Partners, he was a consultant with McKinsey. He is Chairman of the Government's Tech Stars Steering Committee Taskforce and a member of the DTI's UK Competitiveness Committee. He sits on the CBI's City Advisory Group and Wider Share Ownership Committee. [9]


In 1999 Cohen set up with his wife The R and S Cohen Foundation. It aims to donate money:

‘(a) For the advancement of education;(b) For the relief of persons who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress as a result of local national or International disaster or by reason of their social and economic circumstances;(c) In promoting and encouraging for the public all aspects of the arts, including painting, sculpture, theater and music; and(d) Other deserving causes as the Trustees see fit.'[10]::

The main recipients of its funds are the Portland Trust (£500,000 in 2011) and the University of Sussex (£200,000 in 2011). Along with other foundations it supported the creation at Sussex University of a Chair in Modern Israel Studies.[11] The Chair will be named after Yossi Harel, father of Cohen’s wife and captain of the Exodus in 1947, the ship under the control of the Haganah aiming to force the British to allow would-be settlers to disembark in Palestine.[11] The foundation has also funded Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice, the New Israel Fund and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The Fellowship Fund for Students from Israel at Harvard Business School was established by Cohen and his wife in 2005. The fund was set for MBS fellowships for students from Israel.[12]


  1. Jack Straw to take on Labour MPs over tax exiles, Guardian, 27 Feb 2009
  2. Senior Management: Sir Ronald Cohen, The Portland Trust website, accessed 4 October 2011
  3. Robert Peston, Who Runs Britain?, Hodder and Stoughton, 2008
  4. Robert Peston, Who Runs Britain?, Hodder and Stoughton, 2008
  5. The Jewish Chronicle 'JC Power 100: Sacks stays on top, as new names emerge'. 9th May 2008.
  6. The Portland Trust,Homepage, accessed 20 October 2010.
  7. Executive Summary, 9th Herzliya Conference 2009,p.57, herzliyaconferenceorg, accessed 22 November 2012.
  8. Robert Peston, Who Runs Britain?, Hodder and Stoughton, 2008
  9. Taken from 'Ronald Cohen' available through search function on
  11. 11.0 11.1 New professor will develop modern Israel studies,, 26 April 2012, Sussex News, accessed 1 March 2014