Tobias Brown has died

Tobias Brown, Managing Director at UCL Asia and a former chairman of Noble Group has died. He fell from the balcony of his sixth floor residence in Bowen Road on October 17th at about 4pm.

The Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) said he was taken to Ruttonjee Hospital while unconscious and died shortly afterwards. The PPRB said there were no suspicious circumstances but the police have yet to formally determine the circumstances that led to his fall.

Brown was a man of many parts. He was well known in corporate circles in Asia and Europe. He co-founded with his long-time business partner, Jamie O’Donnell, the highly regarded private equity firm UCL Asia which is based in Hong Kong. Brown was non-executive chairman of the commodities company Noble Group from April 2002 to January 2007 and executive chairman for three months in 2010. Has was a non-executive director on a number of other company boards and served on the listings committee of the The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Prior to his arrival in Hong Kong he was the Chief Investment Officer for the late Sir James Goldsmith. According to his biography on the website of The Genomic Trust of which both he and O’Donnell were directors, Brown restructured the global investment operations of the Italian Agnelli family, and also led the restructuring of the precursor corporation of Japan’s largest residential real estate trust, The Daiwahouse Residential Investment Corporation.

Brown also had an interest and some skill in molecular biology. A scientific observation by Brown led to the reformulation of a drug called Nitisinone, which is used in the treatment of several childhood diseases which, if not diagnosed, drastically reduce the chances of children surviving beyond their second birthday. Brown was a significant economic beneficiary of this drug but chose to forego any royalties in exchange for a perpetual agreement from British-based company Cycle Pharmaceuticals that it provide the drug for free to those children in the developing world who otherwise would not be able to pay for the care.

“This will result in literally thousands of children to live who would have otherwise died a painful death,” the company’s Managing Director, James Harrison told the South China Morning Post’s Lai See column earlier this year. He added “I don’t very often come across individuals in the commercial world who think in this way.”

One thought on “Tobias Brown has died

  1. Judith MACKAY

    I was particularly sad to read this news.

    Toby was extremely principled, and in 2012 single-handedly tried to have the tobacco industry delisted from the HK Stock Exchange on the basis of the great harm they caused to young people – a novel and far-reaching idea way ahead of its time, as no other global stock exchange had thought about this. It was a step too far for the HKSE.

    As mentioned above, he had humanitarian interests, and acted upon them.

    Dr Judith Mackay

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