Family feud for control of the Wilhelmsen empire makes headlines

A bitter family fight is spilling out into the media for the control of one of Norway’s most prestigious maritime firms.

Norwegian daily Dagens Næringsliv reports that cousins and aunts from three branches of the Wilhelmsen family have bid NOK1bn ($353m) to try and get the current boss of the group, Thomas Wilhelmsen, to step down from all his roles at the diverse conglomerate.

Wilhelmsen took the reins at the family’s holding company via his holding of A shares following the suicide of his father, Wilhelm Wilhelmsen, in February this year.

Thomas Wilhelmsen has rejected the offer from his relatives, saying he is keen to buy out one of his aunts or cousins instead.

The daughters of the late shipowner Wilhelm Wilhelmsen’s sisters and brother have demanded greater influence over in the companies, saying it is unreasonable that one of the four family branches, which all originally inherited equal parts, should control the entire business via A shares.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This is pretty much par for the course in many shipowning dynasties. What makes it unusual is that it is in the public eye.

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