Rock star Bono helped recruit ex-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to run a new climate fund

Bono
  • Bono phoned former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to recruit him as the head of a new climate fund, according to The New York Times.
  • "We don't just need the usual suspects, we need some 'unusual suspects,' if you like, and some unexpected partnerships in the conversation as well," the U2 frontman and philanthropist said. 
  • "My dance card is full," Paulson initially told Bono.
  • However, after more coaxing he agreed to become the executive chairman of TPG Rise Climate.
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U2 frontman Bono helped recruit former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to run an investment fund focused on combating climate change, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Paulson, who has been running a nonprofit and working on environmental programs for the past 12 years, fielded a call from the rock star last fall, the newspaper said.

Bono, who played a part in setting up TPG's Rise impact-investing funds, told Paulson that the investment group wanted to start a climate-change fund with the financier in charge.

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"I thought he'd be amazing," Bono told The Times. "My work on global poverty and then the AIDS fight taught me that we don't just need the usual suspects, we need some 'unusual suspects,' if you like, and some unexpected partnerships in the conversation as well."

Paulson, who led the Treasury between 2006 and 2009 and bailed out the banks during the financial crisis after a late-night call from Warren Buffett, didn't immediately accept the invitation. "My dance card is full," he replied in Bono's telling.

"I wasn't looking to do this," Paulson told The Times. "At this stage in my career, I'm not looking to do a startup. I'm in a hurry to make a difference."

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However, the former Goldman Sachs banker warmed to the idea after multiple calls and meetings with TPG co-chief executive Jon Winkelried, a friend and ex-colleague. He was also swayed by the success of TPG's other impact funds and the firm's recognition of the immense scale of the climate challenge, he told The Times.

Paulson will serve as the executive chairman of TPG Rise Climate. He intends to make climate bets that match the returns of other types of investments, he told the newspaper. "The market will not scale for concessionary or subsidized returns," he said.

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