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Tangen scandal in squeaky-clean Norway

Jul 27th 2020

Will Nicolai Tangen still take over as boss of the world’s biggest sovereign-wealth fund? How not to hand over to your successor

“We even had to pay for our cup of coffee in meetings,” says Espen Henriksen, recalling the strict code of conduct at the world’s largest sovereign- wealth fund. Mr Henriksen, who now works at the Norwegian Business School, reckons that anyone else who accepted a flight on a private jet and hospitality from a hedge-fund billionaire, as Yngve Slyngstad did, would have been fired instantly. But Mr Slyngstad, the outgoing boss of Norges Bank Investment Management (nbim), merely told its employees that he was very sorry for having “screwed up”. He still intends to stay on as an adviser for another two years, once his successor takes over in September.

The big question now is whether, amid all the furore created by Mr Slyngstad’s misstep (the first in his 22 years at the fund), Nicolai Tangen still wants to take over as the next boss of nbim. For the 54-year-old Norwegian is the very billionaire who treated Mr Slyngstad and a group of his friends to concerts by Sting and Gregory Porter, meals cooked by Jamie Oliver and a ride on a private jet with his friends from a Wharton Business School seminar in Philadelphia back to Oslo. The founder of ako Capital, a $17bn hedge fund based in London, could just stay there and continue to make money. Yet Mr Tangen insists he wants to come home to take the helm at nbim more than ever in these uncertain times. The state-owned fund where Norway stashes its petrodollars is worth around 10trn Norwegian kroner ($1trn), some $185,000 per Norwegian.