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Raised by his secretary mother in Sydney, he was educated at the local Christian Brothers school. He then studied at the University of Sydney where he obtained a BSc degree in physics in 1975 and a BE degree in engineering in 1977, residing at St John's College. He also holds an MSc degree in Acoustics from the University of New South Wales, an MBA degree from Harvard Business School, and an Honorary Doctorate of Business from the University of New South Wales.
MHPF is managed by a team of agricultural specialists, led by CEO Richard Taylor, who graduated from Sydney University with a 1st class honours degree in Veterinary Science in 1987 and has since managed a number of agricultural companies in Australia.
Moving to New York to train in financial services, he worked for Salomon Brothers as a fixed income trader and at Credit Suisse First Boston. Relocating to London with them, he then joined Goldman Sachs, where his ultimate position was Co-head of the UK Shares Product. He left the firm in 1995.
In 1999 he launched his own asset management firm, CQS, and has been cited in the press as one of the highest paid people in the City of London. Hintze was ranked No. 5 on Financial News' FN100 Most Influential list in the hedge fund category. CQS Asset Management, which has been described as "one of the world's leading credit market players" has assets under management reported at $11 billion. The CQS Directional Opportunities Fund, which is managed by Hintze, was ranked #3 on Bloomberg's list of the 100 top-performing large hedge funds for 2012.
He was made a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Gregory (KCSG) by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and was later was elevated to a Knight Grand Cross of the same Order (GCSG).
In 2006, at the time of the Cash for Peerages allegations concerning the Labour Party, Hintze voluntarily revealed he was one of the previously anonymous patrons who had made loans to the Conservative Party. In 2011 his known loans and donations to the party totalled around £4 million. In the five months to September 2011 he donated £31,000, enough to grant him membership of the Conservative Treasurers' Group, the second highest rung on the party's donor's ladder, which allows its members access to senior Conservative figures through a series of lunches, receptions and campaign launches.
In 2007, Hintze established MH Premium Farms (MHPF), a group of agriculture companies based mainly in Australia. MHPF now owns more than 20 properties in eastern Australia, covering a total area of more than 70,000 hectares. The properties offer a broad portfolio including: fat lambs, wool and cattle; broad acre cropping of cereals and oilseeds; irrigated cotton and sugar.
When the Conservative Party were in opposition, Hintze provided the following personal cash donations: £37,500 to George Osborne; £25,000 to David Willetts; £10,000 to the private office of Liam Fox; £1,200 to Theresa May; £7,000 to David Davis; £1,500 to Adam Holloway; £5,000 Boris Johnson. In addition, CQS made non-cash donations of: £25,763 to william Hague; £10,439 to Fox; £1,254 to George Osborne. In May 2008, David Cameron declared a donation from Hintze to the Conservative Party that was used to pay for drinks receptions for Tory MPs and their partners. In March 2008, Hintze paid for a private jet to ferry Cameron and Osborne from Newcastle to Biggin Hill after the Conservative Party conference.
In recognition of their charitable contributions in support of the arts, Michael Hintze and his wife Dorothy received the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy in 2009.
In October 2011, it was revealed that Adam Werritty, a close friend and Business associate of then Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, was provided with a free desk by Hintze at CQS's London base as part of his £29,000 donation to Fox's charity The Atlantic Bridge. Hintze also supplied a private jet for Fox and Werritty to fly from the United States to London in May 2011. These disclosures led to the resignation of Liam Fox (who was then Secretary of State for Defence) and the dismissal of Hintze's then-charity adviser, Oliver Hylton.
He was knighted in the United Kingdom's 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the arts. He received his accolade on 23 October 2013 by The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
In the area of culture and the arts, notable donations include enabling the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Pauline Chapel at the Vatican and in 2014 donating £5 million to the Natural History Museum, London. The donation to the Natural History Museum is the biggest single donation received by the museum in 133 years (in other words, since 1881 when the Museum opened to the public for the first time). The gift will be used in part to fund programmes to study problems that threaten Earth's biodiversity such as the maintenance of delicate ecosystems and the impacts of environmental pollution, as well as the battle against diseases such as malaria. The museum's Central Hall has since been renamed 'Hintze Hall'.
According to the 2016 Forbes magazine list of The World's Billionaires, he was the world's 1,011th richest person, with a net worth of approximately US$1.8 billion; and according to the Australian BRW Rich 200 Hintze was Australia's 37th wealthiest individual with a net worth of A$1.32 billion in 2016.
He was named to the 2017 Debrett’s 500 List, in recognition of his considerable philanthropic contributions in the UK. He was also named to the Evening Standard’s “Progress 1000” list of “London’s most influential people,” citing his philanthropic contributions and Business success.
Hintze was formerly a trustee of the National Gallery, where he assisted in securing Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the nation. He was initially appointed to the National Gallery's Board of Trustees by then Labour Party Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008. He was later reappointed by Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron.