Thanksgiving at Handler’s Inspires Uggla to Fund Scholarships

Lance Uggla isn’t letting the pandemic slow him down.

After getting special permission to travel and then quarantining, he sold IHS Markit Ltd. to S&P Global Inc. last week in an all-stock transaction worth about $39 billion. This week, he’s announcing a gift of almost $58 million to set up the Uggla Family Scholars.

Thanksgiving at Handler’s Inspires Uggla to Fund Scholarships

The goal is to support “equity-deserving” students at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and London School of Economics, Uggla’s alma maters, with the bulk of the money roughly split between the two. Students at the Shitima School in Zambia, where all four of his children have volunteered, will receive about $1 million for scholarships to continue their higher education.

The funds will eventually support 100 recipients a year, and provide for mentoring and leadership training, as well as expenses such as food, travel, books and social events.

“I want the students to know that they don’t have to worry about the financial foundation as they’re learning,” he said. “I want them to focus on doing really well.”

Uggla got the idea for the Uggla Family Scholars from Richard Handler, chief executive officer of Jefferies Financial Group Inc. Last year, Uggla attended his first American Thanksgiving at Handler’s home. The other guests were Handler Scholars at the University of Rochester, who stayed for a few days, playing cards and going to a wolf sanctuary. When Uggla said he wanted to replicate the program, Handler and the university opened up their playbook.

‘Math Problems’

A Canada native, Uggla founded Markit almost two decades ago in a barn outside London after serving as the head of Europe and Asia at TD Securities. He helped to lead Markit’s 2014 stock listing in New York and and later its merger with IHS Inc. Uggla, 58, who pocketed more than $100 million in the S&P Global deal, will stay on as a special adviser for a year after the transaction is completed.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with IHS Markit and S&P Global in providing financial analytics and information.

Uggla took on student debt for his own education, but said he knew he could fall back on his family for support, “at least for housing.” Lately, he’s been thinking of his privilege, and the times when he has felt a lack of inclusion -- as when he interviewed for his first job on Toronto’s Bay Street, wearing a sweater because he didn’t have a suit. Luckily, his interviewer “only cared about the math problems.”

Now he has a house in Ibiza (where he spent a couple of months this summer), wears a Rolex “Kermit” and keeps piano music on in the background while he FaceTimes with a reporter in his home in London’s Chelsea section.

Maybe he’s ready to to slow down? During the pandemic, Uggla bought a meditation device called Muse.

“I’ve never been able to meditate,” he said. “I put this on, it actually keeps track of your brain, and as you calm yourself, you can hear birds. The more birds you hear, the closer you’re getting to this meditative state. I say to my daughters, how many birds did you get?”

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