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Billionaire Fredriksen picks investment chief, invites outside capital

OSLO (Reuters) - Seatankers, the powerful holding company of Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, said on Thursday it had hired a veteran fund manager to broaden the group’s portfolio and bring in outside capital in a new unit.

FILE PHOTO: Norwegian-born shipping tycoon John Fredriksen speaks in Oslo, Norway, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

Vegard Soeraunet, until recently an investment director at Norway’s ODIN Fund Management, will be in charge of “long-term and active ownership” outside of Seatankers’s shipping and offshore oil services industries, the company said.

“Getting the opportunity to take this to the next level with a new structure under Seatankers, is a great opportunity,” Soeraunet said in a statement.

It was the second key appointment at Seatankers in recent days following the Aug. 28 naming of a hedge fund manager as its new chief executive.

While Fredriksen initially built his fortune from shipping, controlling oil tanker group Frontline FRO.OL and dry bulk operator Golden Ocean GOGL.O, he has since expanded into fish farming, real estate and other businesses.

“Seatankers holds a lot of expertise and gets access to many interesting investment opportunities and even though we always have a lot of free capital available, there are many good opportunities we must let go,” said Kathrine Fredriksen, one of founder John Fredriksen’s two daughters.

“The idea is that we take advantage of this, in the new company, opening up for external capital,” she said.

Seatankers will continue to build its investment team and establish long-term structures until the end of 2020, the company added.

John Fredriksen, 76, last year told Norwegian media he could seek outside investors to take larger stakes in some of his companies and could even relinquish control of some operations.

In addition to Frontline and Golden Ocean, Seatankers is the top shareholder of fish farmer Mowi MOWI.OL, real estate group Norwegian Property NPRO.OL and oil rig operator Seadrill SDRL.OL, among others.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Christopher Cushing