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Norway's richest man 'gives away' fortune

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Norway's richest man 'gives away' fortune
Olav Thon arrives at the Norges Bank conference in February - Håkon Mosvsvold Larsen/Scanpix NTB
09:16 CET+01:00
Norway's richest man has given his 26 billion kroner ($4.3bn) fortune to a new foundation, which will oversee his businesses and distribute part of the profits to charitable causes.
Olav Thon, a real estate magnate who Forbes Magazine ranks as Norway's richest man,  said he expected the foundation to give some 50m kroner a year to research in maths, science and medicine. 
 
"I think it's wise for me to give this now, while I am still allowed to participate in management," Thon, who is already 90 years only, said on Tuesday.  "I reckon that even if I were to live to 100 years old, there's only nine to ten years left. And I won't take anything with me." 
 
The foundation will have two purposes, to own and run the Olav Thon Group, and to distribute part of the profits to charity. It will be controlled by a board of directors, with Thon himself acting as its first chairman.
 
Olav Thon Group's investments include a 72 percent stake in Olav Thon Eiendomsselskap, Norway's largest listed real estate company,  and Thon Hotels, one of Norway's largest hotel chains. 
 
Taking 50m kroner for charity from a legacy worth 26 billion is equivalent to an annual dividend of 0.2 percent, less than a tenth of what would be a reasonable return. It remains unclear whether the rest of the return would be retained within the foundation, or disbursed for other uses. 
 
In 2008, Thon told Aftenposten that he wanted to donate his fortune to research. 
 
"Scientific research in mathematics, physics and science have often been given the cold shoulder. I'm also thinking of medical research. If you want the world to move forward, it does not help if you give a meal to the poor: it only lasts a few hours or a day. One must be able to find solutions for the benefit of society." 

 
Thon is a high-profile supporter of Norway's Progress Party, which campaigns to reduce both taxes and immigration.
 
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