The Eternal Anglo

The shady story of how the Jardine Matheson conglomerate became one of the most powerful entities in the world.

The Eternal Anglo

The Globalists did not appear yesterday, and their control over key assets has long roots. It is a structure that is generally far from sight, with their leaders and beneficiaries being hidden away by layers and layers of offshore entities, trusts, and infinitely looping cross-holding structures. Rarely we get a glimpse into one of its facets and how it propagates. I hope that the reader will indulge in reading a story about one of those entities that is somewhat exemplary of the whole, Jardine Matheson.

Jardine Matheson started in the late 18th century in Guangzhou, China, out a group of fledgeling merchants following the expansion of the British Empire aiming to earn a quick shilling from the trade which accompanied it. These people trafficked opium, traded in tea, cotton, silk and other goods. It was not until the loss of the trading monopoly of the East India Trading Company in the 1830s that Jardine Matheson rose in prominence. It filled the vacuum, at one point controlling 50% of Chinese foreign trade. By the end of the nineteenth century, Jardine Matheson had become the largest of all foreign trading companies in the Far East.

Some prominent milestones in the success of Jardine Matheson include it being selected as the first commercial partner of the Rothschild Bank in 1838. This fruitful relationship endured through the years, and has lead to countless joint business endeavors in insurance and financial sectors. Today, Jardine Matheson owns a 5.45%-20% stake in Rothschild Continuation Holdings, which in turn owns the global Rothschild banking and finance empire. This enduring relationship likely opened a lot of doors in relation to financing, which was key in the several economic turmoils that the company survived and its competitors did not. The second prominent milestone followed the destruction of 20,000 crates of British/Jardines opium by the Chinese commissioner Lin Zexu in 1839. This prompted then-head of Jardine Matheson, William Jardine, to press Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston for a forceful response. These lobbying efforts resulted in the Opium Wars, which significantly bolstered the influence and financial position of Jardine Matheson in the region; Jardine Matherson had strategic control over the whole military effort. This also lead to the creation of Hong Kong, of which Jardine Matheson got a large share of land ownership, some of which it holds to this day via Hong Kong Land Holdings Limited. This permitted Jardine Matheson to establish a safe base of operation and a more direct channel for pushing opium to China and exporting tea out of it, something which fueled its future expansions and diversifications of its empire. Opium trade had been rather profitable.

Since the 1890s, Jardine Matheson has been controlled by the Keswick family, and currently is managed by the 5th generation of Keswicks. The Keswicks are heavily related to many of the British noble families and occupy various Royal Court positions. The leadership of Jardine Matheson included many prominent figures who held hereditary positions as Members of Parliament with responsibility for far Eastern interests. This is a well-kept tradition, with Lord Powell of Bayswater, a director of Jardine Matheson since 1992, currently serving on the National Security Strategy Committee of the House of Lords. The company includes prominent taipans like Tony Keswick, who, during the second World War, served as Chief of the Special Operations Executive, the wartime Secret Service of Britain. After the war, he had a very prominent business career: Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Director of the Bank of England, Vice-Chairman of Alliance Assurance, and Director of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum). He was knighted in 1974.

So much for the history lesson; let us look at the Jardines of today. The full extent of the interests of Jardines is beyond count and generally unknowable. Some of the known and more prominent include:

– Astra International: one of the largest automotive companies in southeast Asia, with revenue of over $15 billion. Activities include joint ventures with Toyota, BMW, Daihatsu, Honda, Isuzu; automotive financing services; heavy equipment; mining; construction; toll roads; property development.

– Dairy Farm: a company owning and operating a wide assortment of food processing companies and some 5,700 retail outlets in the southeast Asia region. Some of the prominent franchises include 7-Eleven convenience stores, Pizza Huts, the IKEA franchise throughout the region, Giant hypermarkets, etc. The estimated revenue is $11 billion.

– Jardine Cycle and carriage: a major importer of Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Mitsubishi and Citroen cars and parts into the region, with revenue of approximately $2 billion.

– Hong Kong Land: a real estate owner/operator with approximate revenue of $2 billion.

– Mandarin Oriental: a major hotel chain with Jardine’s share of income approximating $500 million.

A number of investments of Jardines are owned indirectly by the members of the Keswick family, other managing shareholders of Jardines, or through rather complex arrangements. The more interesting of the less public holdings and controlled interests of Jardines include: Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group, Rothschild, Schindler Elevators, Prudential Insurance, LVMH, Ferrari, and Vitasoy.

Now to the interesting part—who owns all of this? The company is largely controlled by the Keswick family, Jardine’s top management directly, and via the undisclosed beneficiaries of the “1947 Fund,” which is rumored to also be controlled by the Keswicks. Other known shareholders include the Oppenheimer Funds, BlackRock, Vanguard, Capital Research and Management Co., Norges Bank Investment Management, and others. The real share of ownership of each party is impossible to ascertain because of circular ownership and general obscurity of the structure. With these circular arrangements it is safe to assume that the Rothschilds also covertly own a stake. Now, the names of these external owners are of much interest as they appear to be controlling holdings valued at many trillions of dollars and recurrently appear in the lists of shareholders of very many major holding companies on the planet.

Do we want such entities to exist in the bright future that we are aspiring to build?

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