TRADING PLACES

Mike Bloomberg is looking to take over New York’s most elite conference from Bill Clinton

For 12 years, an enviable collection of world leaders and company bosses have convened in New York every September. Like other elite gatherings of powerful people—Davos, Bilderberg—the Clinton Global Initiative aimed to bring policymakers and CEOs together to address the most pressing issues of the day. Specifically, the forums meant to inspire investments and other commitments to promote the development of poor countries and underserved communities—“shared prosperity through the power of partnership,” as the Clinton Foundation puts it.

Last year’s meeting was the final edition of the series run by the non-profit founded by former US president Bill Clinton. That leaves a void during the week of the UN General Assembly, when world leaders flock to New York and others follow, hoping to get an audience with them.

Enter Mike Bloomberg.

The former mayor of New York and founder of the eponymous financial data firm is launching the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, a one-day event on Sept. 20. Around 100 CEOs and 30 senior government leaders are confirmed to attend the invite-only gathering thus far, the organizers tell Quartz.

Among the corporate chieftains attending are Jack Ma of Alibaba, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Masayoshi Son of SoftBank, Paul Polman of Unilever, and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo. Bill Gates, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, World Bank chief Jim Kim, and IMF director Christine Lagarde will also be there, along with government officials from countries like Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Singapore, and Turkey.

But the most noteworthy attendee, perhaps, is Bill Clinton, suggesting that the Bloomberg event will continue where the former president’s foundation left off. For one thing, Bloomberg’s event expects to be a venue for countries and businesses to announce several commitments around development, trade, and the like. Last year, after announcing that the 2016 event would be his group’s last, Clinton noted that “the commitment model has been adopted by other forums and I hope that more will do so, or that new organizations will arise to do this work.”

Indeed, there are many other events vying for attention on the sides of the UN gathering, including other inaugural conferences by Davos organizer the World Economic Forum, focused on sustainable development (Sept. 18-19), and Fortune/Time, with a CEO-heavy lineup (Sept. 25).

Bloomberg’s event will address subjects that were common at the Clinton Foundation events, including mitigating climate change, eradicating disease, and alleviating poverty. A draft program also features sessions on addressing the disruption of automation and “exploring the new business models poised to succeed in the new global order.” Promoting trade will be key theme throughout the day.

Main-stage sessions at the event will be publicly streamed, but organizers also hope CEOs and government leaders will hash out deals during roundtables and side-meetings. “The annual meetings held by Clinton Global Initiative showed the incredible opportunity the UN General Assembly week presents for forging new partnerships,” Mike Bloomberg said.

The lineup and program thus far imply that it will be a globally minded gathering with much talk of multilateral solutions to the world’s problems. The emphasis on businesses and governments forging links in a spirit of openness is topical, with US president Donald Trump recently disbanding two prominent business councils after CEOs quit in protest of his response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president’s hostility to trade deals and “America First” policies also don’t sit well with many execs at multinational companies. Will they get a chance to press their case in person next month in New York? Bloomberg has invited Trump, but hasn’t heard back yet.

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