He doesn’t officially live in Norway anymore, but legendary shipowner John Fredriksen remains the country’s richest man, according to the annual list of wealthy Norwegians compiled by magazine Kapital.
Fredriksen, now age 72, was listed as having a net worth of around NOK 92 billion (USD 11.3 billion). Fredriksen, who started out as an errand boy at an Oslo shipbroking firm, eventually started brokering himself and then acquiring ships (mostly oil tankers). He later branched into various other industries, including offshore oil rigs, fish farming, finance and real estate. He left Norway as a tax exile years ago, and most recently has based himself in London and Cyprus.
Grocery story retailer Odd Reitan, founder of the REMA 1000 chain in Norway, was number two on Kapital’s list, with a fortune estimated at NOK 43 billion. The 65-year-old tycoon from Trondheim has since turned much of the businesses in his Reitangruppen over to his two sons, Magnus and Ole Robert, but retains the role of chief executive officer.
Another grocery store and wholesaling heir, Johan Johansson, was in third place with a fortune of NOM 35.5 billion. He now owns more than 70 percent of NorgesGruppen, which owns such grocery store chains as Meny, Kiwi, SPAR and Joker along with widespread interests in wholesaling, restaurants and coffee roasting. The 49-year-old Johansson has kept a low, even secretive, profile over the years but granted some interviews recently in connection with a company anniversary.
Johan Henrik Andresen, the 55-year-old heir to a tobacco fortune in Norway, went on to successfully invest in various industries and financial ventures through his firm Ferd. That has contributed to his fourth-place spot on Kapital’s list, with a fortune estimated at NOK 27.2 billion..
In fifth place is Ole Andreas Halvorsen, a US-based hedge fund manager who founded Viking Global Investors in 1999. Kapital and its sister newspaper Finansavisen reported that Halvorsen, also age 55, won a place on magazine Trader Monthly’s list as well, as one of the world’s hundred best traders. His fortune was listed at NOK 26.4 billion.
Stein Erik Hagen, age 60, offers more evidence that grocery stores in Norway, known for their high prices, can be lucrative business. He founded the Rimi grocery store chain, eventually sold it and now has a portfolio of investments that has landed him prestigious jobs, such as chairman of large Norwegian industrial firm Orkla. His sixth-place fortune was set at NOK 24 billion.
Torstein Hagen, another Norwegian shipowner who has made a fortune in the cruise business, landed in seventh place on the list. The 69-year-old Hagen, who started out at Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab in the 1970s, once tried to take over Nedlloyd and since has built up the world largest river cruise company. He also runs a new Norwegian-registered cruise operation based in Bergen that got the mayor of Bergen into trouble last year but has earned high marks from passengers. Hagen’s fortune rose to NOK 20.2 billion during the past year, according to Kapital.
Shipowner Arne Wilhelmsen, a veteran in the business at age 87, was in eighth-place with a fortune of NOK 19 billion. He and his brother were among the founders of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and he retained stock in the company as it mightily expanded. His fortune declined a bit from last year, according to Kapital, but remained impressive at around NOK 19 billion.
Hotel tycoon Petter Stordalen, age 53, is undoubtedly the most high-profile of all the Norwegian billionaires, with a large portfolio of flashy hotels held through his Choice/Clarion chain in Norway and abroad. He’s also an active investor in other forms of real estate and art but has had a difficult year because of his doctor/activist wife Gunhild’s life-threatening illness. His fortune was listed at NOK 18 billion.
Kjell Inge Røkke, with a fondness for fancy yachts, cars, jets and residential properties, rounded off the list of Kapital’s 10 most wealthy Norwegians. Røkke, originally from Molde in Romsdal, earned the first phase of his fortune fishing off the coast of Alaska in the 1980s, and came home to become an industrialist through his takeover of what’s now Aker ASA. The 57-year-old Røkke’s fortune was set at NOK 17.2 billion.