Ship Magnate Uses Gut in $11 Billion Bet Worst Since ’70s Ending
The flow of much of the world’s oil is controlled from a small suite of offices perched over a Tiffany & Co. store in the Chelsea section of London. That’s where John Fredriksen, a Norwegian shipping magnate worth $13.2 billion, manages the world’s largest fleet of supertankers, the most valuable deep-water drilling company and an armada of about 128 other vessels that carry minerals, grains and liquefied gases.More on Mr. Fredriksen:
Every morning, he plows through a stack of reports on the operations of his maritime empire. Whenever he makes a bet-the- company move, which he does every few years, Fredriksen sets the data aside. “I still work on a gut feeling,” he says in a conference room adorned with a painting of a supertanker named after Kathrine, one of his two daughters.
As he navigates the worst shipping market since the 1970s, Fredriksen’s instincts are telling him to buy, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its October special issue on the 50 Most Influential people in global finance. He’s investing $7 billion in 18 rigs to pump oil from beneath the ocean floor and $4 billion in about four dozen new vessels to transport liquefied natural gas, gasoline, propane and other fuels. While Fredriksen loves tankers -- images of crude carriers are etched on the water glasses in his office -- he’s now trying to increase his dominance over the global circulation of liquid energy in most of its forms.
Fredriksen, 68, is making the biggest wager in a swashbuckling career that has brought billions of dollars in windfalls as well as bitter setbacks -- such as the almost four months he spent in a Norwegian jail charged with fraud. A stout man with the weathered face of a mariner, Fredriksen is fond of joking that 42 of the 50 years he has worked in the tanker trade have been awful.
Whether he’s holding court with Norwegian money managers at the ritzy Theater Cafe in Oslo or downing beers with shipowners at industry confabs in Athens, the chatty billionaire loves being the big dog in tankers. Although he quit high school at age 16, Fredriksen lives in a refurbished 18th-century rectory with 2 acres (1 hectare) of gardens in Chelsea that’s worth more than 110 million pounds ($172 million)....MORE
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