2015 Summit Press Release
The Newport Global Summit was held in historic Newport, Rhode Island, at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy on August 25-26, 2015. International business leaders and family business owners from as far away as Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East gathered to actively collaborate in a program described as “A Convergence of Legacy, Knowledge and Purpose.”
The 2015 Summit was intended to resemble Davos at its infancy, encouraging active collaboration among all participants in order to explore new possibilities for economic prosperity. The Summit brought together leaders in the private sector and global family business owners to actively build bridges for new business opportunity.
Paul Gallagher, the former CIO of HCP Inc., praised the Summit’s format and programming. "I’ve attended many investment and family office conferences over the years and what clearly differentiates the Newport Global Summit is its focus on knowledge and vision as opposed to products and services. A think tank atmosphere conducted in the spectacular mansions of the Gilded Age, the Summit challenges conventional thinking, gets at what is really happening behind the scenes and provides important networking opportunities.”
Highlights of the event included an opening dinner in the elegant setting of Ochre Court, Newport’s second largest mansion next to the Breakers. Peter Kiernan, CEO of Kiernan Ventures, was the keynote speaker, discussing his new bestselling book, American MOJO, Lost & Found. Peter, who is a 25-year board member of Robin Hood Foundation and a member of numerous other prominent boards that help fight poverty, support medical advances, and education, spoke passionately about the need to revitalize economic prosperity for America’s middle class, particularly against the backdrop of a thriving global economic landscape.
Clay Pell, grandson of Senator Claiborne Pell, welcomed guests in the morning to the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy. “It is such an honor to welcome the Newport Global Summit to the Pell Center. My grandfather would have loved to see the mission of the Pell Center at work with international leaders engaging in meaningful dialogue and building bridges of understanding and cooperation.”
Brookfield Asset Management, a global alternative asset manager with over $200 billion in assets under management and a 100-year history of owning and operating assets in private equity, real estate, infrastructure and sustainable resources, was one of the lead sponsors of the event. Ben Vaughan, Brookfield’s Chief Investment Officer of South America, was among the morning keynote speakers on the topic of “Boom or Bust: Opportunities and Risk in Latin America.” He provided insights on Latin America's infrastructure and the emerging middle class in South America and Brazil, a demographic with huge growth potential for investment opportunities in the next five to seven years.
David Weiner, Senior Managing Director of The Straus Group at Neuberger Berman, the legendary value management team led by Marvin Schwartz, was also a morning keynote speaker on the topic of energy outlook and provided his perspective on prospects for the oil recovery. David emphasized that, despite global concerns and the reduced price of oil, leading U.S. upstream energy companies will remain safe and strong investments in the current environment. Neuberger Berman was also a lead sponsor of the Summit.
The morning focus then shifted to a panel on “Regional Power Players: Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” Peter Zwack, a former Brigadier General and former U.S. Senior Defense Office and Attaché of the Russian Federation, gave an impassioned presentation with compelling historical content on Enigmatic and Existential Russia. Mohamed Younes, Chairman of Concord International, one of the leading asset management firms investing in private equity and real estate in Egypt and the Mena Region, shared perspectives on compelling opportunities for economic growth in infrastructure. Jim Smith, President of CM International and former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, shared views on the landscape for business opportunity in Saudi Arabia and structuring ventures for success. John Le Boutillier, the nationally recognized Fox News commentator, led the panel.
Lucien Forbes, CEO of Forbes Energy U.S., a biofuel development and production company, took command of the stage to launch the following segment of the program. Dressed in safari attire, with a bigger-than-life presence, Lucien illustrated a colorful family history of operating businesses in global territories over generations (including his grandfather who was head of GE India). The leaders in the Forbes family have navigated emerging markets with changing political and economic environments, cultural differences, and many other obstacles along the way. Furthermore, they have brought critical resources to remote global territories, from Russia to Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Ghana, Panama, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The family’s commitment goes far beyond traditional standards; it is based on generations of connection to the people.
Hal Pontez, CEO of HPI, LLC, a turbo electric solutions focused on the marine, energy and nuclear sectors, followed with action stories, including the completion of a fast track project in Venezuela which took place during the chaos as Chavez fell from power in 2013. Hal also reflected upon the need for leadership in the private sector. He described accompanying Secretary Pritzker to West Africa in 2014, serving among a small group of business leaders in the energy industry that helped to secure objectives for public/private partnerships globally and bring critical power resources to the region.
Philip Howard, a well-known leader of government and legal reform, delivered the luncheon keynote on the topic of his new book, The Rule of Nobody. He writes periodically for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The News Hour, Today, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, and numerous other programs. Philip is Founder & Chairman of Common Good, as well as the bestselling author of Life Without Lawyers and Death of Common Sense. During his keynote, Philip painted a potential landscape of in which America would be stifled due to outdated regulations and outlined solutions for reforming a system that would be no longer relevant and would become obstructive to the country’s progress.
Hadi Al Alawi traveled from Bahrain to speak on the topic of his family business and the values that had guided the family to have successful enterprises and family unity over generations. Ira Perlmuter shared his experience as head of Private Equity for Triple Five Equities, the family company associated with The Mall of America. Ira has acquired a panoply of businesses for the family and serves as CEO of several of the underlying companies. Ira spoke about the culture of trust between family businesses, and about the interest to broaden relationships with other families for co-investment opportunities globally. This afternoon session, “Family Business and the Rise of the International Conglomerate,” was led by John Messervey, Founder of National Family Advisor, which is considered a leading authority on family business and wealth.
Finally, John LeBoutillier, the nationally recognized news commentator, led with dynamic and infectious energy at the Summit’s last session on the topic of The US Presidential Election and Implications Globally. Following the forum, guests were hosted on a private tour of The Breakers, Newport’s largest mansion, with 75 rooms, bordering Newport’s historic Cliff Walk. John LeBoutillier, great grandson of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and his cousin, Gladys Szapary, great daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose home remains on the third floor of the Breakers, hosted the guests for the tour of the mansion. John and Gladys carried the torch to share the remarkable legacy of one of America’s wealthiest families during the gilded age.
The Summit ended with a glorious evening overlooking the Newport Harbor at sunset and dinner hosted at the New York Yacht Club. Katharine Cushing, Founder of the Summit, commented, “2015 was a transformational year for the Newport Global Summit; the vision has become part of something much bigger, with collective energy and sense of purpose. It was an inspiration on so many levels to see the interaction; leaders from across cultures learning from each other, with dynamic exchange on global markets where business opportunity is thriving. In many ways, the most meaningful impact resulted from the way participants were able to identify with each other, and the personal bonds formed.”