Friday, January 20, 2012

John Fredriksen

John Fredriksen, (born 10 May 1944) is a Norwegian-born Cypriot oil tanker and shipping tycoon, owner of the world's largest oil tanker fleet, and was Norway's richest man until he chose to abandon his Norwegian citizenship and take up a Cypriot passport. Norwegian magazine E24 listed Fredriksen in 2011 with a net worth of NOK 59,7 billion ($10,1 billion USD). Through his investment companies Hemen Holdings and Meisha, Fredriksen controls the companies Frontline and Golar LNG from London.

He also has major interests in the offshore driller SeaDrill, the fish farming company Marine Harvest the dry bulk company Golden Ocean Group, and supply vessel company Deep Sea Supply. Fredriksen's Frontline in 2010-11 owned 9,6% of another large tanker company Overseas Shipholding Group, but divested itself of this stake during 2011.

Born on Oslo's east side, Etterstad, the son of a welder, Fredriksen began as a trainee in a shipbroking company. At the age of 27 he started working for himself. Fredriksen 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 tanker owner, with more than seventy oil tankers, and major interests in oil rigs and fish farming. His fleet is dominated by costly double-hulled, environmentally safer tankers.

Back in December 2005 rumours circulated of Fredriksen-controlled firm Seadrill bidding for Stavanger based rig company Smedvig, and since has been in a bidding war with U.S. company Noble Corporation. But it was announced in late January 2006 that Seadrill had bought more than 50 percent of Smedvig, and therefore gained control of the company (51.24 percent of the votes and 52.27 percent of the capital). Smedvig is valued at NOK 15 billion, and is Fredriksen's biggest ever deal. Noble Corp sold its stake in Smedvig to Seadrill in April 2009. Smedvig is now fully under Seadrill's control.

On 7 June 2007 the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported that Fredriksen was interested in buying the Premiership football club Tottenham Hotspur. Prior to this Fredriksen has been majority owner of Vålerenga I.F. for many years.

He has two children, collects classic Norwegian art, and reportedly turned down an offer of $200m (£180m) from Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich for his Chelsea home. He also owns houses in Oslo, Cyprus, and Marbella. In 2006 John Fredriksen chose to abandon his Norwegian citizenship and is now a citizen of Cyprus.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2003 (published every April) ranked Fredriksen 66th (in Britain) with a worth of £475m, in their 2004 list he ranked 30th with £1,050m, and in 2005 ranked 16th with a fortune of £1,887m. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $10,700m, or #72 in their rich list, as of March 2011.

James Winchester, a veteran shipping analyst at Lazard Frères has said of him, "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." In 2001 an article on described him as having "a tanker fleet bigger than anything Aristotle Onassis ever had."

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