Kjell Inge Røkke
|Kjell Inge Røkke|
25 October 1958|
|Net worth||NOK 17.2 billion ≈ $2.6 billion (2015 estimate)|
Kari Monsen Røkke (deceased)|
Anne Grete Eidsvig (m. 2004–)
Kristian Røkke (b. 1983)|
Elisabeth Røkke (b. 1987)
Normann Røkke (b. 2004)
Per Frijof Røkke (b. 2007)
Normann Røkke (1926-2016)|
Kjell Inge Røkke (born 25 October 1958) is a Norwegian businessman and philanthropist, and is among the richest people in Norway, controlling the Norwegian company Aker ASA.
Røkke is Aker ASA’s main owner, has been a driving force in the development of Aker since the 1990s. Røkke launched his business career with the purchase of a 69-foot trawler in the United States in 1982, and gradually built a leading worldwide fisheries business. In 1996, the Røkke controlled company, RGI, purchased enough Aker shares to become Aker’s largest shareholder, and later merged RGI with Aker. Røkke is currently director of Aker Solutions, Aker BP, Kvaerner and Ocean Yield. As at 31 December 2016, Røkke holds 68.2 per cent of the shares in Aker ASA through his investment company TRG AS and its subsidiaries, which he co-owns with his wife, Anne Grete Eidsvig (b. 1966).
In 2015, Røkke was considered to be the tenth richest person in Norway, with a fortune of NOK 17.2 billion, approximately 2.6 billion U.S. dollars. By May 2017, his fortune was estimated to be 2.7 billion U.S. Dollars.
Røkke started out as a fisherman aged 18, and has no secondary or higher education. In 1979, he moved to the U.S. to work on fishing trawlers in Alaska. Working as a fisherman, he saved up enough money to buy his first trawlers. He eventually owned the American Seafoods Company. Røkke was based in Seattle, Washington in the 1980s, owning and operating American Seafoods Company and Resource Group International (RGI), which included Brooks Sports and Helly Hansen. In the mid-1990s, Røkke returned to Norway. In 1996, Røkke become Aker’s main shareholder and a driving force in the company’s development when RGI purchased enough Aker shares to become Aker’s largest shareholder; the two companies subsequently merged. The merger between RGI and Aker was completed in January 1997. Through Aker, Røkke gained an important position within fisheries, and acquired the long-established fishery business J.M. Johansen with roots back to 1876. Real estate and shipyards is also part of the new company portfolio.
Røkke is currently the largest shareholder of the Norwegian-based company Aker ASA, an industrial investment company, which interests are concentrated in the oil and gas, maritime assets and marine biotechnology sectors. The company's industrial holdings include Aker BP, Aker Solutions, Akastor, Kvaerner, Ocean Yield and Aker BioMarine. Its financial investments comprise cash and liquid assets and real estate development projects.
In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten (published 1 May 2017) Røkke said he planned to give away most of his fortune. As a further step in this plan, he will build a new ship that the WWF can use to do research on the oceans, and to clean the plastic waste from the oceans.
Røkke suffers from dyslexia, but claims that it has helped him to his success, and states that he would not be where he is today without his dyslexia.
In 2006, Røkke won the “Peer Gynt of the Year” award. He was elected to receive the award by the parliamentary representatives. Persons and institutions that have made a positive impression of the socially beneficial plan and made Norway known abroad can get the Peer Gynt statue.
On 16 May 2017 Røkke announced that he is funding the purchase of a giant research vessel. The ship is built in cooperation with the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) in Norway. The 181-meter-long vessel, which is scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2020, will give researchers tools they could not otherwise have dreamed of, reports Aftenposten. Equipment on board the research ship will enable researchers to take measurements from the atmosphere as well as 6,000 metres below the surface of the sea – including up to 20 metres under the seabed. Mini-submarines and both under and overwater drones will be attached to the research vessel, which will also house an auditorium and seven laboratories. The ship will be able to collect and melt up to five tonnes of plastic every day without any harmful emissions. Røkke's desire to use his fortune to benefit society lies behind the idea to fund the ship. Røkke also told Aftenposten that he was concerned about both climate change and plastic pollution in the seas, but that his passion for science was one of the key elements in his funding the project. The research expedition vessel (REV) will be available for expeditions and research as well as for hire as a private yacht, according to the report. Income will be used to reduce maintenance costs and help fund research and equipment costs. Kjell Inge Røkke will pay for the construction and operation of a research vessel that will have a crew of 30 and accommodate 60 researchers. The Operator will be the Røkke company Rosellinis Four-10.
Together with his wife, Anne Grete Eidsvig, Røkke has established the Aker Scholarship in partnership with Aker ASA to support Norwegian students' graduate studies at internationally leading universities. Aker Scholarship’s objective is to inspire recipients to make a difference in the development of Norwegian business, industry, and society for the benefit of generations to come. Røkke's family’s company, TRG, finances Aker Scholarships through donations to their Foundation of Education; Aker administers the scholarship program. The purpose of the Aker Scholarship is to offer highly qualified candidates, with a strong link to Norway, an opportunity to pursue an advanced degree at one of the world´s leading universities, and to support the development of the scholar’s social commitment.
In 2017, Røkke gave a donation to the family's local soccer club, Frisk Asker, to fund new artificial turf and a new clubhouse. Røkke has previously given NOK 10 million (approx USD 1.19 million) to fund 20 mini-pitches for local sports teams and housing associations in his home municipality, Asker. When Røkke and his family moved to Asker in 2010, he helped finance a walking and cycling route in the area.
In May 2017, Røkke and his wife joined the Gates-Buffett The Giving Pledge, an elite network of big philanthropic givers. Pledge members promise to devote the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes during their lifetimes or after their death.
Røkke is also known for his involvement in association football, and became involved with Norwegian side Molde FK in 1993. He was also central to the funding of the club's new stadium, which got the nickname "Røkkeløkka" (English: "The Røkke Park"). Some estimates suggest that he has spent about NOK 400 million funding the club.
Røkke, along with his business partner Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, also bought into Wimbledon Football Club in the late 1990s, becoming a joint owner of the team in 2000. The following year, with the side homeless since leaving their Plough Lane ground in 1991 and playing at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium in Croydon, southeast London, Røkke and Gjelsten, along with chairman Charles Koppel and businessman Pete Winkelman agreed to relocate the team from London to Milton Keynes, a town around 60 miles from their traditional base. The move was controversial and sparked a year of protest at matches from Wimbledon fans, determined not to let their club be 'franchised' like this. Although common in American sport, the relocation of a professional English football club had never been done before. After rejections from the Football League and The FA, the decision was eventually passed on to a three-man arbitration panel, the outcome being two to one in favour of the move. Wimbledon fans, outraged with the decision, agreed to form a new club to support, AFC Wimbledon, and declared a boycott on their former team. The following season, Wimbledon FC would go on to play in front of record low crowds, including just 664 for a League Cup game against Rotherham, before finally completing the move in September 2003. It renamed itself a year later, adopting the name Milton Keynes Dons.
After his 2005 conviction for corruption involving the illegal purchase of a boat licence, Røkke served 24–25 days of a 120-day sentence in Hof Prison, and was subsequently released on parole.
He has been based in London, England since at least 2007.
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“It is a true privilege for our family to reconfirm our commitment to give back by joining The Giving Pledge.”
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