Succession plan in place: Fredriksen

Now 73, John Fredriksen, arguably the world’s most famous shipowner, has spoken about handing the reins of his diverse business empire to his two daughters. Interviewed by Reuters on the sidelines of Nor-Shipping this week, Fredriksen, whose net worth is estimated at $9.9bn by Forbes, said a succession plan was in place.

“It has been planned. But it depends on many things,” the shipping magnate said. “Like health. It may take 10 or 15 years. I have not made up my mind (on when).”

Although the official retirement age in Norway is 62, current choppy market conditions have ensured Fredriksen is having one of his busiest years ever in his 50-odd year career in shipping.

Norway’s richest man indicated earlier this year that he will stay in the day-to-day business of shipping for years to come, vowing to see through the restructuring of his troubled rig unit, Seadrill. Fredriksen has gone on the record to say Seadrill has been his most complicated transaction he has been involved in during his half century in shipping.

Despite his advancing age, Fredriksen, who claims to still be working 18 hours a day, has been making waves in most sectors in shipping this year, repeatedly trying to snap up VLCC rival DHT Holdings, now eyeing Gener8 Maritime, agreeing to merge his OSV unit Deep Sea Supply while also on the hunt for distressed dry bulk assets, something that saw his firm Golden Ocean snap up the 14 bulkers belonging to Greece’s Quintana Shipping in March.

“Retirement is not an option for me, at least for the next three to five years,” Fredriksen told the Financial Times in February.

Fredriksen’s twin daughters Cecilie and Kathrine, have stepped up to have more prominent roles within the Fredriksen empire in recent years.

Speaking with local newspaper Dagens Næringsliv this week the sisters described how they were keen to place the business on a more conservative, yet diversified footing.

“With the aim of diversifying further, we have invested significant sums in fund structures, be it private equity, hedge, tech, or long-fund,” Cecilie noted while her sister Kathrine was quoted saying: “We want a more conservative approach with increased focus on property and fund investments.”

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.
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