The Sandoz Family Foundation holds a stake in the pharmaceutical giant Novartis, owns several luxury hotels and watch companies, and is active in promoting research and culture. Meanwhile, the new "Fondation Philanthropique Famille Sandoz" is still "in a phase of strategy development". Fundraiso shows which projects the three Sandoz foundations support and how fundraisers get money.

Even children know the name "Sandoz". Those who have a cough are occasionally prescribed a syrup from the generic manufacturer Sandoz by their doctor. The company says it is "one of the world market leaders" in such off-patent medicines. The company was originally founded in 1886 as the Swiss chemical company "Kern & Sandoz" in Basel. Today, however, Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen near Munich in Germany.

Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy became Novartis

Sandoz claims to be the world market leader in "generic" antibiotics and sells pharmaceutical products in more than 160 countries. In 1996, the merger of the Swiss companies Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy led to the creation of the Basel-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis. Novartis then re-bundled its generics business under the already established Sandoz brand in 2003. As a Novartis subsidiary, Sandoz generated sales of nearly $10 billion in 2019. The Sandoz Family Foundation holds 3.45 per cent of the share capital of Novartis through its holding company Emasan AG in Basel. According to various sources, the family foundation receives around CHF 200 to 250 million in dividends from Novartis every year.

Novartis participation aliments Sandoz family foundation

The name Sandoz is therefore not only a bringer of salvation for people with a cough, but also triggers monetary "expectations of salvation" among fundraisers, hoteliers, watchmakers, researchers, and cultural workers. If you search for the name "Sandoz" on Fundraiso.ch, you will get a hit list with six foundations with "Sandoz" in their name. The following foundations are associated with the billionaire family dynasty:

  • The "Sandoz-Fondation de Famille", founded in 1964 and based in Glarus. The assets of this family foundation, which is not supervised by the state, are estimated by Fundraiso.ch at around seven billion Swiss francs. The foundation spokesman is Jörg Denzler. He works for the commercial "Sandoz Family Office SA" in Pully near Lausanne. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of this public limited company is the management consultant and auditor Thomas Stenz from Küsnacht (ZH). Stenz is a member of the board of directors at Allreal, a former Ernst & Young partner and runs the company AAC Consulting AG in Zurich. According to information provided by telephone, he is "primarily active as a financial expert and consultant on a mandate basis for Sandoz Familiy Office SA." He had nothing to do directly with the Sandoz Foundation.
  • The Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz (FEMS), founded in 1982 in Pully near Lausanne. According to Jörg Denzler, its main mission is "to promote the works of Edouard Marcel Sandoz (1881-1971) and Maurice Yves Sandoz". Edouard was the artistically gifted son of the founder of "Sandoz AG", Maurice his brother. Fundraiso estimates the assets of this foundation at 25 million Swiss francs. The FEMS pursues exclusively artistic and cultural goals. The foundation also aims to stimulate artistic creation and to support young artists, institutions, societies or foundations of public interest by means of grants, prize money or in other ways.
  • The charitable "La Fondation Philanthropique Famille Sandoz" (FPFS), founded in November 2018. It also has its headquarters in Pully. According to its spokesperson Jörg Denzler, this foundation "bundles, coordinates and handles social, philanthropic and patronage activities". The FPFS aims to support projects or institutions in the fields of education, environmental protection, culture, social affairs, health and humanitarian work. Jörg Denzler, spokesman for the foundation, did not answer written questions about the foundation's allocation practice, its current assets and much more because of a "strategy development phase". It is still too early to communicate more details about this foundation. At least there is an application form on the website. How much money is available remains unclear. After all, applications are supposed to be answered within a maximum of four months.

Son of the Sandoz founder launched the family foundation

The former "Sandoz-Fondation de Famille" is one of the most influential and well-funded family foundations in Switzerland. It was founded by the sculptor and painter Edouard-Marcel Sandoz. The son of the founder of Sandoz AG defined the goal of this family foundation as the promotion of entrepreneurial commitment by means of long-term investments in companies in various sectors. In addition to economic criteria, the family foundation is concerned with promoting "entrepreneurship and innovation" and "cultivating Swiss entrepreneurial tradition". According to its website, its investments are geared towards a strategic goal: "The preservation of high quality and the protection of fundamental social values".

Family foundation holds a wide variety of minority and majority shareholdings

Through various companies and holding companies, the Sandoz Family Foundation is directly or indirectly active in the pharmaceutical industry, agribusiness, the hotel industry and the watch industry. In Switzerland, for example, the foundation has built up the watch brand Parmigiani and the watch movement manufacturer Vaucher. It is also active in the 5-star hotel industry with the "Riffelalp Resort" in Zermatt, the "Beau Rivage" in Lausanne and the "La Palafitte" in Neuchâtel. According to its website, the philosophy underlying all its commitments is geared towards "technological innovation, sustainable development and the creation of new jobs". The foundation has also supported art and science in the past. Several Sandoz family members are involved in the activities of the family foundation in Switzerland or abroad. In particular, the following institutions are supported:

Former ETH Board President is President of the Foundation Board

Fritz Schiesser from Glarus South currently serves as President of the Family Foundation. Schiesser is no stranger to the foundation: He is a lawyer and notary in the canton of Glarus. From 1990 to 2007, he sat in the Council of States as an FDP member for the Canton of Glarus. Until 2007, he was also President of the Foundation Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Until spring 2019, Schiesser also served as President of the ETH Board. He has many years of experience in foundation law.

Support for Sandoz family members as a foundation purpose

Equity investments are not the only goal of the entrepreneurial family foundation. It also aims to support Sandoz's many descendants with money. Specifically, family members can receive a sum from the foundation at the beginning of their careers if they want to start their own business. In an interview published in 1998, Pierre Landolt, then Sandoz Foundation President and current Vice-President of the Montreux Jazz Festival Foundation, said: "The rule in the family is simple: everyone is entitled to a start-up grant. You get a cheque to settle in, and then you make ends meet". Pierre Landolt was the last family representative on the Novartis Board of Directors. At the foundations, on the other hand, family members still play a decisive role - in the so-called family council. This informal body meets several times a year.

More than 600 requests per year

The Sandoz Family Foundation also gets involved in science and research and also provides assistant professorships and assistantships to Swiss universities and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The Foundation is also involved in supporting cultural institutions and events. For this purpose, it provides an annual budget with grants ranging from 1,000 to several hundred thousand francs. Each year, according to the foundation's website, "more than 600 requests are reviewed."

However, involvement in art and culture, as well as science, generally runs through the "Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz" (FEMS). This is the counterpart to the more commercial activities of the Sandoz Family Foundation. For example, the FEMS awards an annual sponsorship prize of CHF 100,000 to an artist whose project convinces the jury of the "Prix FEMS". Alternately, the prize goes to a representative from the fields of sculpture, literature, painting, and music.

The third foundation in the group: FPFS

The youngest foundation in the triple alliance, the "Fondation Philanthropique Famille Sandoz"(FPFS), is committed to projects or institutions that contribute to the development of society in Switzerland and abroad. More specific objectives are to support projects or institutions in the fields of training, education, environmental protection, culture, social affairs, health and humanitarian work. The Foundation Board considers applications from institutions that pursue charitable goals, are based in Switzerland and are active in one or another of the above-mentioned areas. According to Jörg Denzler, "unsuitable" applications to the older Family Foundation will be forwarded to the new "Fondation Philanthropique Famille Sandoz". This foundation does not respond to requests to cover deficits or requests from commercial institutions. Even projects or events that have already been carried out have no chance of receiving a windfall from the honey pots of the billionaire Sandoz family dynasty.

Bernhard Bircher-Suits, FundCom AG

Posted in Grantmaking Foundations, Fundraising

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