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Norwegian shipping billionaire goes on deal spree – at 77

A family enterprise led by Norwegian-born shipping billionaire John Fredriksen, aged 77, has not lost its appetite for deals.

On Tuesday 7 November, he teamed up with Israeli billionaire Idan Ofor, another shipping magnate, to become a cornerstone investor in Edda Wind, which provides zero-emission vessels to service offshore wind farms (see photo above).

His twin daughters, Cecilie and Kathrin Fredriksen have played an important role in managing the sprawling family business, where revenues are less dependent on oil tankers than in the past

The deal is relatively small, with Fredriksen and Ofor each putting in $23 million. But the company is planning an IPO and each of them has agreed to put a representative on the Edda board to help it grow faster.

In August 2021, two Fredriksen companies built up an effective 70% stake in Avance Gas, a supplier of liquefied petroleum gas. In October, they said they would make a bid for the outstanding shares.

The green deals follow an early career when Fredriksen, now with Cyprus citizenship, developed expertise as an oil trader and went on to generate massive profits in the oil tanker trade during the 1980s war between Iran and Iraq.

This October, his CK family trust bought a 5.5% stake in listed oil carrier Euronav, a big rival to Fredriksen’s 40% owned Frontline which operates one of the largest tanker fleets in the world, following a series of acquisitions

Fredriksen also has offshore oil interests, Golden Ocean dry bulk carriers and extensive firm farms run by Mowi, the world’s largest supplier of Atlantic salmon.

His twin daughters, Cecilie and Kathrin Fredriksen have played an important role in managing the sprawling family business, where revenues are less dependent on oil tankers than in the past. Fredericksen talked of the possibility of finding external capital for his company in 2019, but his daughters expect to inherit control. And advisers say they are fully engaged.

Cecilie is a director of several companies including Seatankers, the family’s holding company, Mowi and Frontline Corporate Services which supplies accounting and administration to the group.

Kathrin oversees investments. She has also served as director at several companies, including Seatankers. The sisters also serve on the board of Norwegian Property, a listed real estate group where a Frederiksen company has a controlling stake.  NP is owner of the Aker Bryyge, a valuable development on Oslo’s harbourfront.

Fredriksen’s family wealth totals $11.1 billion, according to Forbes, and invests extensively in the stock market

In September 2020, Frederiksen reshuffled his investment business by hiring Vegard Søraunet to join his core family enterprise, Seatankers, from Odin Fund Management.

In January 2021, Frederiksen backed Søraunet at a new investment business called Aeternum Management which used its Nordic expertise to score several early wins.

Aeternum went on to hire Gilbert Gillebo, who has experience in private equity, in April. In September, it co-invested in software developer Visma with Norway’s government pension fund, giving Visma a notional value of $19 billion.  Aeturnum has also made a venture capital investment in OnDosis, a Swedish life sciences company backed by Astra Zeneca which wants to develop the digital distribution of drugs, on a personalised basis.

In August 2021, Tor Svelland, who has a background in shipping, took a break from his hedge fund, Svelland Capital, to become Seatankers chief executive.  Following the completion of a 12-month contract, he has returned to his hedge fund, after completing a restructuring. Igor Puljic has joined the investment team at Seatankers UK. He was previously a senior portfolio manager at Kempen Capital Management, a large Dutch asset manager He reports to John O’Donnell, chief investment officer.

This year’s activities underline Fredriksen’s passion for business.  He retains his ruling passions for art, football and luxury cars.  Succession may be looming, but there could be time for him to tackle a few more deals, even now.

 

 

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