Rich and powerful on advisory panel

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Trade Minister Trond Giske has assembled some of Norway’s most rich and powerful investors and business leaders, to advise him on how the state should invest its own funds in local business.

Trade Minister Trond Giske met his new investment advisory panel this week. PHOTO: Nærings- og handels departementet

The Norwegian state ranks as the country’s largest single investor with stakes in various firms like Statoil and Telenor amounting to as much as NOK 600 billion (USD 100 billion). Giske plans to present a new strategy for the state’s investments during the course of this winter, and invited other major investors and executives to offer their opinions.

The group assembled around Giske’s table on Tuesday was a veritable “who’s who” of the business world, including Anette Olsen of Fred Olsen AS, Christen Sveaas of Kistefos AS, Svein Støle of Pareto AS, Elisabeth Grieg of the Grieg Group, Bjørn Kjos of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, Jens Ulltveit-Moe of UMOE AS and Olav Nils Sunde of Color Line. They represented not just vast fortunes, some of them inherited and others self-made, but also a wide spectrum of industry expertise from shipping to airlines and investment banking.

Also among them was Olav Thon, a self-made real estate mogul who keeps a modest profile but has often ranked as Norway’s wealthiest individual. He already had some clear opinions, that the state should sell off its stake in Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) for example. Giske earlier has said the government’s stake in SAS is under review.

“It’s important for me to use the competence these people represent,” said Giske, who hails from the left wing of the Labour Party himself. “I think the ideological conflict around state ownership is less than it was earlier.”

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