Ernesto Bertarelli

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Ernesto Bertarelli
Alinghi-img 0179.jpg
Born Ernesto Bertarelli
(1965-09-22) 22 September 1965 (age 48)
Rome, Italy
Residence Gstaad
Nationality Switzerland
Ethnicity Italian
Alma mater Babson College
Harvard Business School
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Serono
America's Cup
Bertarelli Foundation
Net worth Increase USD $ 14.8 billion
Spouse(s) Kirsty Roper (m. 2000)
Children 3

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

Together with his extended family, Bertarelli was ranked 94th in the 2013 annual ranking of the world's wealthiest people compiled and published by Forbes magazine,[1] The family's wealth was most recently estimated at US$14.8 billion by Bloomberg.[2]


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. The building now hosts the Campus Biotech.

His grandfather founded Serono, a pharmaceutical company that moved from Rome to Switzerland. Bertarelli became CEO in 1996 and, 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 instructed advisers in 2006, agreeing to sell 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.

After Serono[edit]

Between 2002 and 2009, he served as a board director of UBS AG.[4]

His current business and finance interests include Kedge Capital, an investment management group specializing in hedge funds, private equity and real estate.

In 2008 he launched Ares Life Sciences, which builds on his extensive healthcare industry knowledge, investing across the spectrum of medical technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Since its inception, this investment company has already acquired majority participations in Euromedic, a leading pan-European medical services provider specializing in diagnostic imaging, clinical laboratory, renal care and cancer treatment; Esaote, a global player in diagnostic imaging, with a strong international presence in ultrasound and dedicated MRI; and Stallergenes, a biopharmaceutical company specialized in the treatment of severe respiratory allergies by allergen immunotherapy, world leader on the sublingual immunotherapy market.

In 2010, the Bertarelli family also launched a new asset management business, Northill Capital.

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 making the purchase 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.

The British government's Cabinet recently established the Chagos Archipelago as the world's largest marine reserve, larger than the country of France or the state of California. The protection of the marine reserve will be guaranteed for the next five years thanks to financing by the Bertarelli Foundation.[20]

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 song-writer, while on holiday in Italy in 1997. The couple married in 2000, and have three children.[21] The couple live in Gstaad and spend time in their house on the shores of Lake Geneva.[22]

In December 2008, Appledore Shipbuilders launched the hull of Project55, Bertarelli's new yacht,[23] which was completed as Vava II by Devonport Engineering Consortium Ltd at Plymouth in February 2012[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ernesto Bertarelli & family - Forbes". Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "The World’s 200 Richest People - Bloomberg". Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ UBS - Archive / Search
  5. ^ "Merck KGaA to Close Merck Serono Site in Geneva, Cut Jobs". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  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. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "List of Chevaliers de la Legion d'honneur". 
  13. ^ "Comunicato: Presidenza della Repubblica". 29 May 2003. 
  14. ^ Scuttlebutt News: Cory E. Friedman - America's Cup
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ NEWS EPFL :: Launching of EPFL Center for Neuroprostheses
  18. ^ "Billionaire saves marine reserve plans". The Independent. 2010-09-12. 
  19. ^ Neuroengineering program is focus | Harvard Gazette
  20. ^ “The Independent, Billionaire saves marine reserve plans, 12 Sept 2010”
  21. ^ "Kirsty Roper". London: Daily Mail. 2008-05-05. 
  22. ^ Longmore, Andrew (2008-11-02). "Ernesto Bertarelli: making waves". London: Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  23. ^ "Right to be proud of the superyacht". 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  24. ^ "Largest British-built private yacht sets sail for Caribbean". London: The Telegraph. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 

External links[edit]