High-powered couple separates

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Stein Erik Hagen and Mille-Marie Treschow, the unrivalled power couple of Norway’s business community since they married eight years ago, have agreed to “a pause” in their relationship, website dn.no reported late on Monday. Hagen confirmed the news, saying that “life has different phases.”

Mille-Marie Treschow is about the closest Norway has to nobility, and her marriage to industrialist Stein Erik Hagen made them Norway's undisputed power couple. Now they're going their separate ways. PHOTO: Views and News

The news broke on the same day that Hagen, best-known for founding the Rimi grocery store chain but who’s now chairman of industrial firm Orkla, announced that Orkla would be buying 90 percent of the longtime family-controlled Bergen-based food concern Rieber & Søn AS for NOK 6.1 billion (USD 1 billion). Rieber is behind such food brands in Norway as Toro, Denja, Mr Lee and Vestlandslefsa.

It clearly was a busy day for Hagen, who also disclosed late last year that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery in the US earlier this year.

Hagen, age 56, created his own fortune while Treschow largely inherited hers, based on forestry interests, but she’s known as one of Norway’s sharpest and most powerful businesswomen.

Since their fairytale wedding with 700 guests in 2004, Treschow and Hagen have invested in each other’s companies and also built the lavish spa complex Farris Bad near Larvik as a joint venture. The coastal city of Larvik is Treschow’s traditional base and the site of her family’s large estate.

With each holding their own billion-kroner fortunes, and ranking among Norway’s wealthiest individuals, their marriage attracted huge media coverage eight years ago. Hagen downplayed the impact of their official separation.

‘There is no drama,” he told dn.no. “We remain good friends, we will be seing each other, and we talk on the phone every day.”

He said they were unsure how long their separation would last. “Whether it’s one, two or three years, we’ll just see,” Hagen told the website for newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “We agreed to separate, but there’s no hurry (with a divorce).”

Separate but intertwined interests
The couple established what’s called særeie in Norwegian when they married, meaning that each side retained their own fortunes in the event of divorce. They have since co-invested, but Hagen claimed their separation “won’t have any economic consequences.”

Treschow is a board member of the Hagen family’s company Canica, which holds most of Hagen’s nearly 25 percent stake in Orkla. Treschow also is a board member of a foundation set up by Hagen, and before he sold out of retailing and real estate firm Steen & Strøm, she was on its board as well.

Hagen, meanwhile, is a board member in one of the most important companies in the Treschow forestry empire, Treschow-Fritzøe. She’s the sixth-generation owner of the firm that controls vast forests along the Siljan waterway in Telemark County and in Vestfold. Treschow herself ranks as the largest individual forest owner in Norway.

The couple owns the Farris Bad spa hotel 50-50, where Treschow’s son Michael Stang Treschow is a board member. The hotel’s revenues are rising, but it still haven’t generated any profits for Hagen and Treschow.

She reportedly was preoccupied with meetings on Monday and not available for comment on her separation from Hagen.

Views and News staff