In a world where anyone who’s willing to pay can attend the World Economic Forum, where are the global elite supposed to gather and discuss matters too private for the 2,630 who gather in Davos, Switzerland? One answer is the Bilderberg Meeting, which starts Thursday at an undisclosed location in Hertfordshire, a county in southern England.
Originally established in 1954 and named for the hotel in which the first gathering occured, Bilderberg is held annually with little fanfare, intense secrecy, and high security. The stated mission is to “foster dialogue between Europe and North America.”
It was only recently that the Bilderberg Group, which organizes the meeting, released details about the event to the public. The organization recently posted a list of this year’s 138 attendees along with ”key topics for discussion,” which include “How big data is changing almost everything” and “Online education: promise and impacts.”
Attending this year’s meeting is a rarefied set of current and former executives, academics, and government officials: Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa; Mario Monti, former prime minister of Italy; Tim Geithner, former US Treasury secretary; to name a few.
Twenty-three financial institutions are represented, including Goldman Sachs (through its chairman Peter Sutherland), Thiel Capital (founder Peter Theil), and Lazard (CEO Kenneth Jacobs). Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity firm KKR, is listed, as well.
From media, John Micklethwait the Economist’s editor-in-chief, is attending. So are Washington Post Co. CEO Donald Graham, Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf, and Grupo PRISA executive chairman Juan Luis Cebrián.
There are three attendees from Harvard University, two from Stanford, and one from both Oxford and Princeton.
Bilderberg Group says it only invites delegates from North America and Europe. That evidently includes Turkey, which has six attendees this year, according to our analysis.
The exclusion of other areas of the world means that the discussion of “Developments in the Middle East” will go forward next weekend with Turkish delegates as the only Middle Eastern voices. “Africa’s challenges” will be discussed without anyone from that continent. And “Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats” will be debated without a Chinese or Russian viewpoint.