Norway union boss calls for new oil fund head to resign

The leader of Norway's biggest private sector trade union has called for the scandal-hit incoming head of the country's 10tn kroner oil fund to resign before he even takes up his position.

Norway union boss calls for new oil fund head to resign
Jørn Eggum, head of The United Federation of Trade Unions, believed Tangen cannot take his place. Photo:John Trygve Tollefsen/Fellesforbundet
Jørn Eggum, head of The United Federation of Trade Unions, told the VG newspaper that he believed billionaire fund manager Nicolai Tangen could not take up his place, after recent revelations over a luxury trip he arranged. 
“The person in control of the nation's money bag must have the confidence of the Norwegian people. And Nicolai Tangen doesn't have it,” he told the VG newspaper. 
“Tangen's judgement around this luxury tour shows quite clearly that he's not the right man to manage the welfare and pensions of future generations.”  
A scandal has blown up around Tangen after a report in VG showed that before he was appointed as the fund's future manager, he flew the fund's outgoing head Yngve Slyngstad to the US on a luxury jet, together with a government minister and Norway's attorney general, for a three-day private conference. 
After, the trip, he then emailed Slyngstad asking as “a little favour”, for him to brief him on the oil fund job. 
Tangen told VG he had no intention of not taking up his position. 
“I am insisting that I have done anything wrong and I look forward to having the true facts of the matter put in the correct light,” he wrote in an email to VG. 
“We are working to get an overview of the cost of the event and will share this with the public as soon as it is clear, probably tomorrow morning,” he added. 
The supervisory board of Norges Bank, which administers the oil fund, yesterday announced it would hold an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday to discuss the process through which Tangen was appointed, and to examine whether the luxury trip could have impacted the decision. 
The bank has already agreed to refund the cost of Slyngstad's three-day visit to the “Back to University” seminar Tangen arranged at his Alma Mater, the Wharton business school in Philadelphia. 
The minister who attended, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, has admitted that he made a mistake, while Norway's ambassador to the UN, Mona Juul, who also attended, has apologised, while her department has agreed to pay the cost.  
“When some of the country's foremost peoples must, despite the humiliation, admit to having messed up, and say they regret it, Tangen cannot just stay put and say that he thinks he has done nothing wrong,” Eggum said. 
He called for the bank's supervisory board to resolve to dismiss Tangen if he does not agree to resign. 
“I strongly believe that Norges Bank's Supervisory Board will make the right assessment,” he said. “A bank of the people must be led by someone who has met ordinary people.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Norway oil fund loses 18 billion euros in first half of 2020

Norway's huge sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, lost 188 billion kroner (18 billion euros, $21 billion) in the first half of the year as the global economy reels from the Covid-19 pandemic, the central bank said Tuesday.

Norway oil fund loses 18 billion euros in first half of 2020
Unusually empty slopes and ski lifts in Hemsedal in April. Photo: AFP

The fund, in which the Norwegian state's oil revenues are invested, was hit by plummeting share prices, with stocks accounting for 69.6 percent of its investments.

Its share portfolio posted a negative return of 6.8 percent in the first six months of the year.

At the end of June, the fund was valued at 10.4 trillion kroner (989 billion euros), up from the 9.98 trillion kroner seen at the end of the first quarter.

“The year started with optimism, but the outlook of the equity market quickly turned when the coronavirus started to spread globally,” the fund's deputy chief executive, Trond Grande, said in a statement.

“However, the sharp stock market decline of the first quarter was limited by a massive monetary and financial policy response,” he added.

Real estate investments, which represent 2.8 percent of the portfolio, also posted a negative return, of 1.6 percent, while bond investments, which account for 27.6 percent of assets, posted a gain of 5.1 percent.

“Even though markets recovered well in the second quarter, we are still witnessing considerable uncertainty,” Grande said.

The fund is meanwhile still mired in controversy over the appointment of a new chief executive.

Nicolai Tangen, a billionaire who founded the AKO Capital hedge fund in London, is due to take over the fund on September 1st, replacing Yngve Slyngstad who is retiring.

But critics have complained about Tangen's possible conflicts of interest, as well as his use of tax havens.

The central bank has meanwhile been criticised for irregularities in the recruitment process.

As a result, some major political parties are opposed to Tangen's appointment, and it remains up in the air.

READ ALSO: Norway's oil fund loses 1.3 trillion kroner ($125bn) in coronavirus crash