OSLO (Reuters) – It’s cost him more than $1 billion and he’s moved into a higher tax bracket, but hedge fund veteran Nicolai Tangen said on Tuesday he had no regrets about giving up his old job to manage Norway’s oil fund.
Arriving by electric scooter on his first day, Tangen declined to say what might change as he took charge of the country’s $1.2 trillion of national savings after months of public scrutiny of his private wealth and connections.
“I intend to tell you in due course, when I’ve sat down with the new management team,” he told independent broadcaster TV2.
Tangen’s appointment to manage Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – owning 1.5% of globally listed stocks and vast portfolios of bonds and real estate – was announced in March.
News that he would become a civil servant in charge of NBIM while maintaining a 43% stake in London-based hedge fund AKO Capital, set off a political storm in Norway over potential conflict of interest.
Forced by parliament to choose between his life’s work – AKO – and what he said was his dream job, Tangen last week agreed to donate his AKO stake to a charitable foundation, clearing the path to the oil fund position.
Tangen estimated the value of his forfeited hedge fund holdings at some 10 billion crowns (850.18 million pounds). He also agreed to sell off private investments, and said that left him with about 7 billion crowns in cash in personal bank accounts.
“I want to be CEO of the oil fund, and have only one objective: creating wealth for future generations,” the 54-year-old said at the time.
His new job pays 6.65 million crowns ($760,000) a year and he is contracted to serve a five-year term, renewable once, and work the Norwegian standard of 37-1/2 hours per week.
While the salary is high compared with most public positions, Tangen will be paying far more in annual wealth tax after moving back to his native Norway from Britain.
Saving petroleum revenue for future generations, the fund owns stakes in 9,200 companies and has grown from nothing in 1996 to a value of around three times that of Norway’s annual gross domestic product, or $217,000 for each Norwegian.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche and John Stonestreet)