Billionaire investor Julian Robertson Jr., the North Carolina native who founded the prestigious Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, died Tuesday at the age of 90.
As the co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Tiger Management LLC, Robertson built the company into one of the world’s largest and most successful hedge funds, with assets of more than $21 billion. He also trained a generation of prominent hedge fund managers and analysts known as Tiger Cubs.
The Salisbury native and UNC-CH alumnus died at his home in New York after suffering from cardiac complications, his spokesman told The Wall Street Journal.
Before his success as an investor, Robertson served in the U.S. Navy and then started his business career at Kidder Peabody and Company as a sales trainee in 1957. He worked his way up to become a vice president, stockholder and then director of Kidder Peabody over the next decade.
In 1974, he was named chairman of the board and CEO of Webster Management Corporation, which is Kidder Peabody’s investment advisory subsidiary.
Robertson’s initial $8 million in capital fueled his investment firm, which consistently outperformed the market.
Tiger Management showed losses in just four of its 21 years and produced annual returns averaging 31.7% after fees, which is more than double the rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index over the same period, The New York Times reported. The rise of the internet and “mania for untested dot-com stocks” forced Robertson to close his business in 2000.
‘Courtly … North Carolinian’
Described by The Times as a “courtly and smartly tailored North Carolinian,” Robertson managed his own multibillion-dollar fortune into his 80s. He also owned and operated luxury golf resorts and a vineyard in New Zealand.
With his financial success, Robertson found ways to give back. He and his late wife, Josephine “Josie” Robertson, who died in 2010, focused their philanthropy on education, the environment and medical research.
Together, they founded Robertson Foundation in 1996, and in 2000, donated $24 million to create The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program in North Carolina. Each year, the program gives 36 students (18 from each campus) the opportunity to attend classes and experience campus life at both schools. The four-year scholarship covers undergraduate tuition, room and board and includes study abroad experiences and professional development.
The program also provides critical transportation between the two campuses on The Robertson Express Bus, which is open to anyone during the school year.
The first class of Robertson Scholars graduated in 2005. Since then, the collaboration between Duke and UNC Scholars has led to the creation of start-ups, non-profits and research developments.
Robertson previously told The New York Times that it would “thrill” him to be remembered for giving his money away. He donated an estimated $2 billion over his lifetime, according to his spokesman.
Robertson is survived by his three sons and nine grandchildren.
This story was originally published August 23, 2022 7:11 PM.
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