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Norway Rich List: Meet the Wealthiest Norwegians in 2020

Piles of hundred krone banknotes in Norway

Who are Norway's wealthiest people? Discover the top 10 Norwegian billionaires thanks to the very latest ‘rich list' published by Norwegian business magazine Kapital.

It's that time of the year again! Each year, Norwegian business magazine Kapital publishes its annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in Norway. The list does not consider income, but the value of total assets held.

The big news this year was the Viking Cruises founder and chair Torstein Hagen dropping from 2nd to 10th place in the rankings. The impact of the global pandemic on the cruise industry was and continues to be significant, wiping 66% off the value of Hagen's assets.

Compiling Norway's rich list

For 30 years, the Norwegian business magazine Kapital has published an annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in Norway. ‘Norway's richest 400' is based on the tax return data published by the Norwegian tax authorities each year.

Kapital researchers then adjust those figures based on share price movements and other public information available so far in 2020. This means of course that the figures are estimates. A Kapital spokesperson said the pandemic made the job more difficult this year, but they are confident in the results.

Read more: Famous Norwegian People

This year's report shows that for the first time in 10 years, Norway’s 400 richest people are worth less than the previous year. Norway's 400 richest people are now worth a combined 1,401 billion Norwegian kroner compared with 1,408 billion in 2019.

For context, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund is worth NOK 10,638 billion at the time of writing!

#1: John Fredriksen

The Oslo-born Cypriot national who lives in London tops the list, and comfortably so. Shipping magnate John Fredriksen is worth more than double his nearest rival. This despite losing NOK 10 billion off the value of his assets since last year.

John Fredriksen

During the Iran-Iraq Wars in the 1980s, his was one of the few oil shipping companies who continued to work in the region, despite its risks. The gamble paid off, and his oil tanker fleet is now the world's largest.

His inclusion on the list remains curious given that he renounced his Norwegian citizenship “because it offered his family better tax arrangements”, according to several media reports. Norwegian citizens are taxed on their wealth in addition to their income.

#2: Odd Reitan

Chances are you'd expect many of the top ten to be involved in shipping or the energy industries. However, those in positions two and three are both in the supermarket trade. With a total wealth of approximately NOK 44.5 billion, Odd Reitan comes in second.

He's the founder of well-known supermarket chain Rema 1000. The chain began in Trondheim and now covers the entire country, as well as several other countries in northern Europe.

Odd Reitan
Odd Reitan

Reitan was also the man behind the expensive overhaul of the Britannia Hotel in Trondheim.

#3: Johan Johansson

The founder of Rema 1000's main rivals NorgesGruppen, which includes the brands Kiwi, Meny, Spar and Joker, is worth almost as much as Reitan. His total estimated assets come to NOK 44 billion.

Johansson keeps a low public profile despite owning around 70% of NorgesGruppen.

Read more: Norwegian People

#4: Ole Andreas Halvorsen

Worth around NOK 43 billion, Ole Andreas Halvorsen is the CEO and co-founder of the Connecticut-based hedge fund, Viking Global Investors. He remains a Norwegian citizen but lives in America.

Halvorsen worked in the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley after finishing his studies and moved into a senior position with Tiger Management Corp before co-founding Viking Global Investors, which manages in excess of $30 billion of capital.

#5: Johan H. Andresen

In fourth place on the list with an estimated wealth of NOK 35 billion is Johan Henrik Andresen. Since 1998, Andresen has been the owner of the Ferd investment group.

Johan H. Andresen
Johan H. Andresen. Photo: Olav Heggø / Ferd

One of the largest privately held companies in Norway, Ferd is an investment company with holdings in companies within industry and finance as well as a real estate portfolio.

It seems to have withstood the pandemic well so far, as Andresen's personal wealth increased by 6% on 2019.

#6: Gustav Witzøe

Who knew there is so much money in salmon? Witzøe is founder and executive vice president of one of the world's largest salmon farmers, SalMar, founded in 1991. SalMar processed  166,000 tonnes of salmon last year, with good prospects for the following year.

Much of his fortune is to be inherited by his son, Gustav Magnus Witzøe. In addition to a future controlling interest in SalMar, the 27-year-old also invests in technology startups and real estate, and has worked as a model. He has a big social media following.

#7: Stein Erik Hagen

Businessman and investor Stein Erik Hagen is worth an estimated NOK 33 billion. He is a major shareholder of the Orkla Group, which has interests in branded consumer goods, aluminium solutions and financial investment sectors. Hagen also holds an interest in retailers Steen & Strøm, Jernia and Komplett.

#8: Ivar Erik Tollefsen

Real estate investor Tollefsen is worth an estimated NOK 29 billion, an increase of 26% since 2019, propelling him into the top ten. The 59-year-old began his entrepreneurial journey by renting out DJ equipment and services.

#9: Kjell Inge Røkke

As the main owner of Aker ASA, Kjell Inge Røkke is worth around NOK 27.5 billion. Røkke launched his business career with the purchase of a 69-foot trawler in the USA in 1982, and gradually built a leading worldwide fisheries business.

Kjell Inge Røkke
Kjell Inge Røkke

Today, Aker ASA is one of Norway's biggest companies, engaged in offshore fishing, construction and engineering. Røkke is known for his philanthropy and has previously announced he will give away “the lion’s share” of his vast fortune to good causes.

#10: Torstein Hagen

The founder, chairman and CEO of Viking Cruises has watched NOK 40 billion be wiped off the value of his assets in the course of the year. It is the biggest drop ever recorded by Kapital in a single year.

Founded in 1997 with just four ships, the Viking Cruises fleet has grown to 82 vessels. However, the health crisis forced the company known for its river cruises and ocean cruises to suspend operations for most of 2020.

Elsewhere on the list

Among the top 400, there are 51 women, the same as last year. Norway’s richest woman is the 68-year-old real estate investor Ruth Katharina Mustad Bevreng. She is in 31st place.

While the total value of assets of the richest 400 people has fallen, the minimum wealth required to qualify for the list continues to grow. The person in 400th place this year has an estimated wealth of NOK 850 million compared with NOK 800 million in 2019.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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