Hodson Thornber retired in early 2008 as Managing Director in Renaissance Partners, the merchant  banking arm of Renaissance Group, Moscow.  Since retirement he has been an active venture capital investor in several British, American and Ukrainian companies.  Hodson also serves on the Advisory Council of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago.  He and his wife live in central London.

Dr Thornber joined Renaissance in 2001 and led the firm’s principal investments in the utility and agriculture sectors.  These activities included major investments in power companies Mosenergo and Kuzbassenergo, on the Boards of Directors of which he served in 2002-2004, and in Ukraine’s agricultural sector.

Prior to joining Renaissance, Hodson was a Moscow-based partner in Arthur Andersen where he advised senior management of Kazakhstan’s national railroad and its national oil pipeline company on restructuring and tariff matters and the Russian Ministry of Economic Trade and Development on power sector reform.

Before Anderson, Dr Thornber was a Managing Director in Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett where he established that firm’s international consulting practice in London in 1988.  He had previously served as Vice President-Finance and Treasurer (CFO) for the United States Synthetic Fuels Corporation, where he led negotiations of loan and price guarantees for several multibillion-dollar synthetic fuels plants.

He also served as a director of the Continental Insurance group of mutual funds and of several privately held companies, and as trustee of several charitable institutions in the USA.

Dr Thornber earned BA and PhD degrees, both in economics from the University of Chicago, where he subsequently served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business, now Booth Chicago.

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Dr Thornber’s advisory experience falls into three broad areas:  Industry Restructuring, Privatization and Financial Advisory.


In his industry restructuring work Dr Thornber has done the following.

  • In England and Wales, advised the Chairmen of the Area Boards, the buy-side, in creation of the UK’s pioneer wholesale market for electric power, established in preparation for the 1990 privatization of the electricity industry.
  • In September 1991 conducted a seminal 2-day conference for the Soviet Ministry of Electrification on decentralization and market transformation of the Soviet electricity industry. It was attended by over 300 industry leaders from ministries, system operators and utilities all across the Soviet Union.  Focus was on preparation for decentalized, market-based operation, building on recent experience in England and Wales, and on preparation for privatization of the resulting companies.  This conference contributed directly to the massive post-Soviet reorganization and de-monopolization of the electricity industries of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan in the 1990’s.
  • Advised the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, the Minister of Energy, the State Property Fund and the World Bank in the reorganization of Ukraine’s electricity industry around a competitive wholesale market. This resulted in the restructuring of the entire industry into 34 separate generating, transmission and distribution companies, along with an industry regulator and national wholesale market and system operator. The restructuring plan was conceived by Dr Thornber in 1992, and the international advisory team consisting of over 20 firms from 12 countries with a budget of over $30 million was led by him from its inception under World Bank auspices in 1994 through completion of the restructuring and startup of the wholesale market in 1997.
  • Advised Russia’s Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Economy, Federal Energy Commission and state electricity industry holding company RAO UES from 1992 through 1997 in planning for decentralization and de-monopolization of the Russian power sector. This extensive series of technical assistance projects, funded largely by the British Know-How Fund, included analysis and reports which were the basis for the 1997 Yasin Commission report and Yeltsin decree which in turn lay the groundwork for subsequent restructuring of RAO UES and the entire Russian power sector.
  • In 1997 advised Boris Nemtsov, then governor of Nizhny Novgorod, on potential restructuring of Nizhnovenergo, the regional electric utility, to create a competitive electricity market along Ukrainian lines in Nizhny Novgorod.
  • Advised the RAO UES team which established Natsionaeny Energetichesky Rynok / IFO, a pilot wholesale electricity market in Russia, in 1997.
  • Developed and managed a World Bank-financed team advising Russia’s Ministry of Energy on government policy in the Russian gas industry, from 1999 through 2001
  • Advised the CEO of KazTemirZholi, the national railroad system of Kazakhstan, in the unbundling and market transformation of the railroad, including issues of both company strategy and organization and of industry structure, market arrangements and regulation.
  • Advised the senior management of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade during 2000 and 2001 on the Chubias Plan for restructuring and market transformation of the Russian electricity industry, which was based on the 1997 Yasin Commission report and decree noted above.
  • Led a government relations team in a successful program to amend draft electricity laws in Russia to make them more effective tools for the government to use in restructuring the Russian power sector and to make wholesale market regulation and operation more transparent for investors.
  • Developed unbundling and restructuring plans for major power and heat utilities Kuzbassenergo and Mosenergo in the context of industry restructuring plans which he had earlier helped to formulate. In both cases these restructuring plans were backed by acquisition of major stakes in the relevant company.


Dr Thornber’s privatization work, often in conjunction with industry restructuring projects, includes the following.

  • Assisted the twelve regional electricity boards of England and Wales from 1988 through 1991 in the negotiation of the form and content of the licenses by which they would operate and be regulated within the new privatized British electricity industry. This included formulating the line of business structure subsequently adopted in the licenses and related agreements which contributed to the transparency of their operations and to investor confidence in the resulting light-handed regulatory process.
  • Advised Scottish Power in the negotiation of its generation, transmission and sale license, which were quite different from those in England and Wales due to the vertically integrated structure of the relatively isolated Scottish power industry. This license was a major factor in the subsequent successful privatization of Scottish Power.
  • In October 1990, with Sir Alan Walters, conducted a 3-day seminar in Moscow on privatization at the invitation of the Russian Federation Ministry of Finance. Several of the attendees became, not long afterward, the core of the state property fund of post-Soviet Russia.
  • In Ukraine from 1992 through 1997 advised several parties as set out above on the future structure, regulation and operation of its electric power industry with emphasis on privatization and incorporation of private capital as a long-term driver of efficiency. The success of the arrangements is indicated by the sale of stakes in the resulting companies for substantial value through tenders and by the leading role which the resulting listed companies have played in development of capital markets in Ukraine.
  • In Russia from 1992 through 2001 advised several parties as set out above on the creation of market institutions, regulatory arrangements and company structures which would attract foreign investment and expertise when the resulting companies were privatized. Due to serious but avoidable mistakes made by the Russian government, this restructuring and privatization process took far longer than in Ukraine.  It finally emerged successful after a very complex and time-consuming restructuring process, and the resulting generation and distribution companies attracted major international investor interest. 


In this area Dr Thornber has, among many assignments:

  • On behalf of a US Government agency, in 1982-3 renegotiated a complex financial and contractual arrangement to avoid default by borrowers under a $1.4 billion Government loan guarantee.
  • Negotiated the structure and detailed financing agreements for the world’s first commercial scale integrated coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) electric power plant, a forerunner of today’s clean coal technologies.
  • Conducted several competitive solicitations in connection with the financing of large energy projects having a cumulative value of over five billion dollars.
  • Created, in 1985, the first competitive procurement system for selection of independent power producers for US electric utilities, a mechanism which was subsequently used across America in projects worth billions of dollars.
  • Assisted a major British utility in negotiation of a multi-billion pound long-term nuclear power purchase agreement.
  • Developed a substantial financial advisory practice serving electric utilities, which were in uncharted territory, compelled by regulators to enter into long term power purchase agreements with independent power producers.
  • Advised secured creditors in the first bankruptcy of a US electric utility, which had leased a $500 million power plant from these investors.
  • Advised the developers of a major chemical process plant on financial structure of the project and on contractual means to mitigate the risks inherent in the project’s fuel, feedstock and products markets.
  • Advised KazTransOil, the Kazak national oil pipeline company, on tariff policy in the context of its potential entry into world capital markets.


Dr Thornber has given testimony in the United States before both houses of Congress and the public service regulatory commissions of the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.