John Fredriksen and family
Shipping, Oil services
Fredriksen started as an errand boy in an Oslo ship-broking firm and went on to build the world’s largest tanker fleet. Often cited as Norway’s richest man (a debatable title since he relinquished his citizenship over a tax row and became a Cypriot national in 2006), London-based Fredriksen, 73 on Wednesday, is set to hand his empire over to his twin daughters Kathrine and Cecilie, 33. Both are business graduates who hold directorships in family companies (not to mention perpetual listings as eligible billionaires).
When Fredriksen makes the move, though, is a moot point. “I hope Cecilie takes over soon, I’m beginning to get tired,” he told a Norwegian newspaper six years ago, before swiftly changing his mind, “But I won’t retire. I think I’ll work until I die,” added the tycoon nicknamed “Big Wolf”. His wife Inger, who died from cancer in 2006, suggested her husband would make a bad retiree.
Supervising the restructuring of $8bn debts at his oil-drilling operation, Seadrill, will add another “three to five years” to his time in the business, he has vowed. Fredriksen, whose Chelsea mansion has a ballroom and two acres, controls a £3bn empire embracing Frontline shipping, fish farming and oil support services, backed by huge cash reserves of £4.4bn, up about £1.4bn on last year.