Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik has to move his fledgling Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights out of its fashionable headquarters, after losing financial support from his original backers.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Friday that the owners of the mansion in Oslo’s Skarpsno/Frogner district, which once served as the embassy for Indonesia, had been subsidizing the rent for Bondevik in a show of support for the peace project he started after leaving politics. Now the owners, including retailing legend and investor Stein Erik Hagen, think they’ve offered enough support over the past five years, and want a profitable tenant.
“We invest in real estate but this purchase was made first and foremost to help Bondevik get started,” investor Stig O Jacobsen told DN. Jacobsen, Hagen and another investor, Erik Berg, bought the mansion in 2006 for NOK 28 million (USD 5.4 million) and leased it to Bondevik’s peace center, with the center paying just NOK 250,000 in rent last year and the investors subsidizing the rest, an amount estimated at NOK 1.5 million.
“Five years is a long time and we signaled (back in 2006) that the lease wouldn’t be extended,” Jacobsen said. “They could have continued to rent at ordinary rates, but Bondevik wants a more reasonable locale.”
Bondevik has also failed to get backing he sought from Norway’s foreign ministry and lost support from other wealthy businessmen and investors in Norway, including Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten through the Aker industrial concern they once controlled together. He and his staff will now move on June 30.
Simon Rye, director of the center, told DN that negotiations were underway for a new office. “The move is not dramatic for us,” Rye claimed. “We must find more reasonable and smaller officers. It won’t be any ballroom, but functional quarters near downtown.”
Rye denied the loss of financial support for the center will force any layoffs. “We’re in conversations with several potential supporters,” Rye said. DN reported the center has attracted two new sponsors, Fokus Bank and investor Terje Mikalsen, who reportedly now lives in the US.