Thomas Wilhelmsen battles for control of family empire

The battle for control of the Wilhelmsen empire has entered a new stage.

Norwegian daily Dagens Næringsliv reported in September that cousins and aunts from three branches of the Wilhelmsen family had bid NOK1bn to try and get the current boss of the group, Thomas Wilhelmsen, to step down from all his roles at the diverse conglomerate. The simmering family feud has been brewing over the last two years.

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.

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.

I see no other way out than to offer a buyout

Thomas Wilhelmsen rejected the offer from his relatives back in September and has now made his own bid to buy out his family members instead, tabling a NOK1.42bn ($157m) bid.

“I want to keep the family values together, as our family has succeeded for generations. Despite several attempts to achieve this, I see no other way out than to offer a buyout,” Wilhelmsen told local media this week.

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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