As a country rich in natural resources and minerals, it is no wonder that Norway is among the wealthiest nations of the world. However what is incredible is the high quality of life enjoyed by the vast majority of its citizens. Indeed Norway has always figured among the top nations on the human development index scale. Here is a list of ten men whose combined wealth has been significant in putting Norway among the richest countries of the globe.
- John Friedriksen
Norwegian-born shipping magnate John Friedriksen is the owner of the largest oil tanker fleet in the world comprising of more than seventy oil tankers. In 2010 Norwegian magazine Kapital listed Friedriksen with a net worth of NOK 55.5 billion or $13 billion USD. Apart from his oil tankers business, Friedriksen has major interests in oil rigs and fish farming like the offshore driller Seadrill, the fish farming company Marine Harvest, the dry bulk company Golden Ocean Group and supply vessel company Deep Sea Supply. Moreover through his investment companies Hemen Holdings and Meisha, Fredriksen controls the companies Frontline and Golar LNG from London. In 2006 however John Fredriksen chose to abandon his Norwegian citizenship in protest against the country’s tax laws and is now a citizen of Cyprus.
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- Stein Erik Hagen
With Friedriksen giving up Norwegian citizenship, the richest man in Norway now is Stein Erik Hagen. The 51 year-old businessman is worth NOK 24 billion, according to the Kapital. Hagen made his fortune offering cheaper groceries to Norwegians used to paying high prices for food and household supplies. He founded the RIMI discount grocery store chain along with his father in the 1970s, and retained ownership until the 2000s, when he sold to Swedish ICA and Ahold. With the money from the sale he founded the Orkla group of companies and has since branched into industry and real estate ventures, owning majority shares in Steen & Strøm, Jernia and Komplett through his family company Canica.
- Olav Thon
Even at eighty-four years old, real estate developer Olav Thon is active and still adding on to his considerable net worth of NOK 20.2 billion according to the Kapital magazine. In 2008 Thon figured in Forbes List of Billionaires as the 368th richest person in the world. Thon’s company owns 360 properties in Norway and 18 abroad, including shopping malls, office buildings, retail stores and hotels. In September 2008, Olav Thon's solicitor, John Christian Elden, announced in the Norwegian media that Olav Thon intends to give away his entire fortune. Thon's portfolio will eventually be placed in a trust named after Thon, and will according to Elden, be spent on future generations.
- Kjell Inge Rokke
Rokke started out as a fisherman but soon became one of Norway’s foremost industrialist. He controls the Norwegian company Aker Solutions besides being the joint owner of Wimbledon Football Club. Currently Rokke is has assets worth around NOK 19.8 billion. Rokke made his fortune when he left for the USA after having worked for years on fishing trawlers in Alaska. There he settled in Seattle, Washington in the 1980s, owning and operating American Seafoods Company. In the early 1990s, he returned to Norway, buying and restructuring various companies. Rokke was in news in 2005 for being convicted of bribery change and spent almost a month in jail, after which he was released on parole.
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- Johan Johannson
The grocery business seems to be a particularly profitable one in Norway since it is the source of the fortune of another Norwegian billionaire Johan Johannson. He is the largest owner of retailing firm NorgesGruppen, which owns the KIWI, Meny and Spar grocery store chains. He’s also from the family behind coffee wholesaler Joh Johannson. The media-shy grocery store baron is believed to have a net worth of NOK 15 billion.
- Odd Reitan
Yet another Norwegian billionaire who owes his fortunes to the grocery business is Odd Reitan. He is the owner of the Reitan Group of companies which includes REMA 1000, 7-Eleven, Hydrotexaco, Easy24, Narvesen, Spaceworld and Pressbyrån. The company has most of its 1,979 stores in Norway, but also some in Sweden, Denmark and Latvia. The group owes its beginnings to Odd Reitan who took over his father's grocery store in 1972 and by 1979 had increased it to six stores in Trondheim. The same year Reitan went on a study trip in Europe and after returning, decided to launch the low-price franchise concept REMA 1000.
- Johan H Andresen Jr
This 50 year-old Norwegian businessmen is one of the richest private individuals in Norway and reportedly good for NOK 13.6 billion or $2 billion USD. Andresen Jr inherited his fortune from a tobacco wholesaling family and throughout the 1990s, he gradually became the owner of the Tiedemanns tobacco empire. Andresen is currently owner and CEO of Ferd, an investment conglomerate which owns Elopak and Swix, among other companies.
- Arne Wilhelmsen
Norway’s shipping industry is again a source of most of the private wealth in the country. One of its greatest beneficiaries is Arne Wilhelmsen, whose family has long had major stakes in Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, tankers and other shipping and offshore ventures. Currently his personal fortune is pegged at NOK 11.25 billion.
- Arne Blystad
Another Norwegian shipping tycoon Arne Blystd together with his brother Vilhelm were counted as among the biggest players in the business during the 1980s. Even though they almost disappeared in the 1990s, Arne has made a comeback in the recent years. As of now Arne Blystad’s fortune is estimated to be NOK 10 billion.
- Jacob Stolt-Nielsen
One of the biggest gainers in the Norwegian shipping business in recent times has been Jacob Stolt-Nielsen. In 2008, Magazine Kapital pegged his personal fortunes at NOK 9.2 billion, up NOK 2 billion from the previous year and this despite the trouble that Stolt-Nielsen has run in with US authorities over alleged cartel operations in the shipping business. The founder of Stolt-Nielsen Limited, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen has been widely credited as the creator of the parcel tanker concept besides also pioneering and building profitable businesses in tank containers, offshore oilfield services and aquaculture.