The exclusive drinking water venture Voss of Norway has finally turned a profit after 20 years, and attracted Chinese investors on the ownership side. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that they’re paying around NOK 1 billion to become main owners in the company.
It all started with NOK 300,000 in capital from investors, one of whom was Christopher Harlem, nephew of former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. He and partner Ole Christian Sandberg launched the idea of selling Norwegian spring water in designer bottles and attracted customers like entertainers Madonna and Puff Daddy. The water, tapped from a source at Iveland in Aust-Agder in southern Norway, was sold mostly through exclusive hotels, restaurants and nightclubs in the US.
While Voss won a glossy image, it was a profit drain for years but attracted more capital and is now sold in 55 countries. Harlem and his partners, who also came to include cousin and lawyer Knut Brundtland and the US acquisition fund Juggernaut, have had Voss up for sale for more than a year and have now found a buyer: Beijing-based Reignwood, which has interests in several sectors including the rights in China to distribute the Red Bull energy drink. DN reported that Reignwood owner Changchai Ruayrunguang wrote in an email that the firm has great ambitions for Voss. A new stock issue will give Voss around NOK 540 million in fresh capital.
“This is just fantastic,” Harlem, who most recently has had a 12 stake in Voss told DN. DN reported he’ll net around NOK 70 million on the deal.