Thor Bjorgolfsson’s profile picture

Thor Bjorgolfsson

Thor Bjorgolfsson’s profile picture
Net worth 2018: $2.09 Billion
Industry: Diversified
Residence: London, United Kingdom
Country: Iceland
BirthDay: 19 March 1967
Sigh: Aries
Children: 3
Education: Bachelor of Arts / Science, New York University
BIOGRAPHY

Thor Bjorgolfsson was bornon 19 March 1967 in London, United Kingdom, Iceland. Thor Bjorgolfsson is #1182 in List Billionaires People In The World. Iceland's sole billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson made his first fortune in the wilds of Russia, cofounding Bravo brewery and creating the popular Botchkarov beer brand. He sold to Heineken in 2002 and used the proceeds to go on a buying spree in his native Iceland and Eastern Europe. He lost nearly all of his fortune during the financial crisis when Iceland nearly went bankrupt and he suddenly had to find a way to pay off more than $1 billion in debts. At the time he was vilified; his Reykjavik home crudely graffitied with his image and "2008" -- the year of his "death." "Everyone f'-ed up including me," he said. Bjorgolfsson, whose great grandfather faced bankruptcy twice and whose father filed for bankruptcy in 2009, was determined to avoid the same fate. He and his creditors worked out a complex agreement that allowed him time to pay off his debts while holding onto key stakes in several businesses including Polish telecom outfit Play, which went public in 2017. He has since recovered and remains a prolific investor with stakes in Chilean telecom firm WOM (formerly known as Nextel) and in U.S. startups like Zwift, an online platform for indoor cyclists.

NET WORTH STATISTIC
2009

$1 Billion

2015

$1.3 Billion

2016

$1.6 Billion

2017

$1.8 Billion

2018

$2.09 Billion

TIMELINE
Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson (born 19 March 1967 in Reykjavík, Iceland), known internationally as Thor Bjorgolfsson, and colloquially in Iceland as Bjöggi, is an Icelandic businessman and entrepreneur, and former chairman of the financial firm Straumur-Burðarás and chairman of investment firm Novator Partners. As of March 2017, he is the richest person in Iceland and 1,161st richest person in the world according to Forbes. His most valuable holding today through Novator Partners is a share in Polish telecom outfit Play and he has also invested in smaller startups such as the Zwift online platform for indoor cycling as well as the Icelandic MMOG company CCP Games.Björgólfur was the first Icelander to join Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people in 2005; has been declared "Iceland's first billionaire"; and was ranked as the 249th-richest person in the world by Forbes magazine in 2007—up from 350th the previous year—with a net worth of $3.5 billion. In 2007 the Sunday Times’ Sunday Times Rich List put his net worth at £2,000 million. However, following the financial crisis of 2007–2010, Björgólfur's net worth had declined to $1 billion by March 2009. He worked out a complex deal with his creditors to pay off his debts while holding on to his key investments and on March 20, 2017 Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.81 billion. He published an autobiography in 2014.Björgólfur Thor is heir to a long family legacy in Icelandic business and politics. His great-grandfather was the legendary Danish-born Icelandic entrepreneur Thor Jensen, who helped introduce industrial capitalism to the country in the early years of the twentieth century. The eighth of Thor's eleven children was Margrét Þorbjörg Thors Hallgrímsson, whose daughter Þóra Hallgrímsson had Björgólfur Thor as her only child by her third husband Björgólfur Guðmundsson. Þóra Hallgrímsdóttir, Björgólfur Thor's mother, was married to George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi party. Björgólfur Thor has often emphasised this, for example by adapting for his company Novator the old logo of Eimskip, which Thor had originally designed for his company Kveldúlfur hf, and through his association with the biographical documentary Thor's Saga by Ulla Boje Rasmussen, which draws parallels between Thor Jensen and Björgólfur Thor.Björgólfur Thor grew up in the Reykjavík suburb of Vesturbær. A sketch of Björgólfur Thor's early life is offered by Ármann Þorvaldsson:In 1986, the firm of Björgólfur Thor's father Björgólfur Guðmundsson, Hafskip, became embroiled in a financial scandal and was bankrupted; the scandal may have arisen from the efforts of Hafskip's main competitor Eimskip and its allied political party, the Independence Party, to reduce competition, and the events had a considerable effect on the young Björgólfur Thor. At times he has presented his subsequent business activities as an effort to regain his and his father's reputations and pay their opponents back. Graduating from the prestigious Commercial College of Iceland in 1987, he followed in the footsteps of some of his siblings and moved to the USA, in a move he has portrayed as an attempt to escape an Iceland where he felt an outsider. He began higher education at the University of California, San Diego, later transferring to the Leonard N Stern School of Business at New York University, graduating with a B.S. in Marketing in 1991.While studying, Björgólfur Thor took a variety of vacation jobs, including running events manager at Reykjavík's then two biggest clubs: Tunglið and Skuggabarinn. In the course of this, in 1991, he met Kristín Ólafsdóttir, now a film-maker; they married in 2010. They have three children, Daniel (b. 2005), Lorenz (b. 2009), and Bentina (b. 2011). They currently live primarily in London, United Kingdom.In 1991, Björgólfur Thor went to Russia along with his father and a friend, Magnús Þorsteinsson. The Icelandic businessmen, together with Russian partners, founded bottling company Baltic Bottling Plant, which was sold to Pepsi. Next they founded a brewing company. ООО "Торговый дом "РОСА" was registered in March 1995 and changed its name to Bravo OOO in February 1996. It further changed its name to Bravo International OOO in August 1996 and Bravo International JSC in December 1997. The founders of Bravo were six companies registered in Limassol, Cyprus. Björgólfur Thor was president of all of them. Bravo Brewery became a success producing the premium beer Botchkarov. The company became the fastest growing brewery in Russia. Heineken bought the brewery for $400m in 2002.In 2000, Saint Petersburg opened an honorary consulate in Iceland. Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson was appointed Consul and Magnús Þorsteinsson was appointed Honorary Vice-Consul. The opening ceremony was held on March 10, 2000.Björgólfur Thor's ventures in Russia raised suspicion. An article in The Guardian wondered where Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson's money came from and noted that in the 1990s the men "were not only ploughing money into the country but doing it in the city regarded as the Russian mafia capital. That investment was being made in the drinks sector, seen by the mafia as the industry of choice." Similar concerns were raised by Die Welt. Competitors in the Saint Petersburg brewing market faced problems. For instance, Ilya Weismann, deputy director of competing beverage company Baltic, was assassinated on 10 January 2000. Later Baltic director general Aslanbek Chochiev was also assassinated. One competing Saint Petersburg brewery burned to the ground.Björgólfur Thor has strongly denied any connection with mafia activity. In his book, Billions to Bust and Back, he chronicles his time in St Petersburg, detailing how criminal elements tried to intimidate him into giving them access to his business and explaining which security measures he relied on to prevent it.After leaving Russia, Björgólfur Thor started investing in several Icelandic firms in 2002. By 2006 he was a celebrity for his business success, being devoted an eight-page profile comprising a whole Sunday supplement of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið in that year.Novator Partners, which is managed by Björgólfur Thor, has bought assets around Eastern Europe. The company's owners are unknown.Late in 2002, Björgólfur Thor and Björgólfur Guðmundsson's holding company Samson ehf. gained a 45% controlling share of Landsbanki, Iceland's second largest bank, for about ISK12m in a controversial privatization. The board was announced in February 2003, with the chairman being Björgólfur Thor's father. Landsbanki was declared to be acting contrary to the interests of the United Kingdom and placed on a watchlist usually used for the blocking of funds to terrorist organizations by the British government after bankruptcy in October 2008.Björgólfur Thor was the main owner as well as the chairman of the Straumur Investment Bank.Two of Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson's companies, Landsbanki and Straumur, left the Icelandic people with several billions of dollars in debt when they went bankrupt following the 2008–11 Icelandic financial crisis. He has been heavily criticized for his actions leading to the crisis.Two days after the publication of the Icelandic government report on the financial crisis on 12 April 2010, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson issued a public apology for his role in the crisis in the Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið, including the statement:Although Björgólfur Thor's fortunes were reduced by the financial crisis, leading him to cancel the construction of a £100m luxury yacht, he has continued to prosper overall. He has defended his reputation by disputing government and journalistic criticisms of his role in the 2008 financial crisis on his website, through letters to newspapers, and through legal action.In December 2013, the website "The Automatic Earth" reported:Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson is the inspiration for the main character of Bjarni Harðarson's satirical novel about the 2008–11 Icelandic financial crisis, Sigurðar saga fóts: Íslensk riddarasaga, where his counterpart is the main character, Sigurður frits ('fótur') Bjarnhéðinsson. He is also the inspiration for the main character of Bjarni Bjarnason's novel Mannorð ('reputation'), Starkaður Leví, who pays for the identity (and the life) of a well respected writer.Björgólfur Thor and his great-grandfather Thor Jensen are the subject of the 2011 documentary film Thors saga by Ulla Boje Rasmussen.Pétur Blöndal, `Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson', Morgunblaðið (27 August 2006), B 1--8.
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