Fredriksen picks new CEO of Seatankers

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Norwegian-Cypriot shipping tycoon John Fredriksen has appointed a close associate to take the helm of the salmon-to-shipping empire Seatankers Group, as the family “seeks other emerging business opportunities”.

Tor Andre Svelland, 53, is the holding company’s new chief executive, an appointment that came from within the group, as the UK-based fund manager was already on the boards of two other Fredriksen companies, tanker firm Frontline and dry bulk shipper Golden Ocean.

Svelland’s job will be to help Fredriksen and his twin daughters, Kathrine and Cecilie, take advantage of emerging business opportunities, according to a Seatankers announcement.

“His vast and long experience as a manager and trader from various commodity markets, finance and not least shipping, will fit perfectly into our group,” Fredriksen said in a statement.

His net worth was estimated at $13 bln (€10.85 bln) by Norwegian business magazine Kapital.

According to Forbes, 76-year-old Fredriksen’s wealth is estimated at $10.1 bln (€8.4 bln), more than triple the €2.7 bln fortune he had a decade ago.

Reuters reported that Fredriksen last year told Norwegian media he may seek outside investors to take larger stakes in some of his companies and could even relinquish control of some operations.

Like Fredriksen, Svelland started his career in shipping, and now heads UK-based hedge fund Svelland Capital, focused on shipping and various commodity markets.

One of the few hedge fund players active in shipping markets, Svelland Capital posted one of its best monthly returns in March, helped by oil price turmoil and a record rally in tanker rates, Reuters said.

Fredriksen owned the world’s largest oil tanker fleet and was Norway’s richest man until he chose to take up Cypriot nationality in 2006, setting up Limassol-based Seatankers Management Company Ltd.

This placed him at the top of the 2010 “Cyprus Rich List” published in collaboration with the Financial Mirror.

It was reported at the time that Fredriksen chose Cyprus because of the favourable laws on inheritance tax (0%).

Fredriksen also controls Golar LNG, parent of Golar Energy that unsuccessfully bid for Cyprus’ LNG supply contract some 15 years ago, it was later rejected after the government decided to award the contract to public utility EAC.

Born in Oslo and the son of a welder, Fredriksen began as a trainee in a ship brokering company.

Aged 27, he started on his own and made his fortune during the Iran-Iraq wars in the 1980s when his tankers picked up oil at great risk and huge profits.

As described by his biographer, “he was the lifeline to the Ayatollah.”

He is now the world’s largest oil tanker owner, with major interests in oil rigs and fish farming.

In 2012, he was included in the 50 Most Influential list of Bloomberg Markets Magazine.

He was named in the top 10 most influential people in the shipping industry according to Lloyds List 2014.

James Winchester, a veteran shipping analyst at Lazard Frères has been quoted as saying of Fredriksen, “He’s a modern-day Onassis. The tanker king. He landed squarely in the sweet spot of the tanker cycle, with the largest fleet of ships.”