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The ethical investment company backed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has ploughed millions of pounds into pharmaceutical companies that develop Covid-19 jabs - despite previous calls from the couple for vaccine makers to share their secrets.
The couple, who have campaigned publicly for vaccine equity and lobbied pharmaceutical firms to waive patents for the developing world, are now “impact partners” with Ethic, a US fintech asset manager which promises to invest clients’ money in companies “that treat people and the planet with respect”.
Its most recent filings show it has invested in shares of social media firms Facebook and Twitter, internet and tech giants Amazon and Apple, as well as AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
The Duke and Duchess invested in Ethic during a funding round this year. They also have their own investment portfolio managed by the firm.
Helping to educate the ‘broader community’
They made their involvement public on Tuesday, saying: “This is one of the ways we put our values in action.”
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Ethic confirmed the Sussexes would be working on “content and events that help educate our broader community around important issues”.
The partnership could see the Duke and Duchess share their thoughts on topics such as gender equity, racial justice and the environment as they relate to finances, encouraging fans to make their investments sustainable.
The Sussexes have previously lobbied for vaccine equity, appearing at a New York rally last month where Prince Harry criticised “ultra wealthy pharmaceutical companies” for “not sharing the recipes” to make jabs for the developing world.
According to paperwork filed in the US in August, Ethic invested $747,000 in Pfizer, $1.6 million in AstraZeneca, $2.2 million in Novartis and $2.5 million in Johnson & Johnson.
Pharmaceutical company Sanofi received $1.6 million, and GlaxoSmithKlein $760,000.
It also has $6.9 million invested in Facebook shares, making it the company’s 13th-biggest investment, according to a recent US filing.
It also has a $32 million stake in Alphabet, the parent company of YouTube-owner Google, and a $2 million investment in Twitter.
‘We share a lot of values’
Nearly $30 million was invested in Amazon shares, with $45.8 million with Apple and $323,000 with Netflix, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have signed a multi-year commercial deal to make television streaming programmes.
Announcing their new “impact partners”, the co-founders of Ethic said Prince Harry and Meghan “share a lot of values with us”, with their involvement allowing their vision to “reach many millions around the globe”.
Ethic has $1.3 billion in assets under management, and will not disclose its financial arrangements with the Sussexes.
A spokeswoman said the asset management company invites clients to create their own portfolios that reflect the “unique values and financial priorities”, adding: “Whereas one client might place emphasis on deforestation and clean water, for example, another might be focused on strong corporate governance, women’s rights and/or racial justice.”
In theory, investing their own money through Ethic could mean Prince Harry and Meghan owning stakes in social media giants and pharmaceutical companies they have previously denounced, but the set-up does allow investors to opt out of owning certain companies.
The couple are said to hope that their involvement in Ethic “would help democratise investing, making people - especially younger people - more deliberate in their choices and conscious of investing in sustainable companies”.
A spokeswoman for Ethic said pharmaceutical companies would appear in some client portfolios, depending on the ethical issues they had chosen to prioritise.
The couple’s role as “impact partners” is understood to be separate from their personal investments.