Billionaire Fredriksen’s Top Adviser Since 1990s Steps Back

Tor Olav Troeim, billionaire John Fredriksen’s closest adviser, is leaving Seatankers Group after almost 20 years to focus on Seadrill Ltd. and Golar LNG Ltd., in which he acquired shares valued at $260 million.

Troeim, 51, has bought 3 million shares in Golar LNG, which owns a fleet of liquefied natural gas carriers, and 2 million shares in Seadrill, the world’s largest rig owner by market value, from Fredriksen’s World Shipholding Ltd. and Hemen Holding Ltd., the companies said yesterday.

Troeim has been instrumental in helping Fredriksen expand his shipping empire to oil drilling and salmon farming during the last two decades. Seadrill is now Fredriksen’s most valuable holding, while he also controls Marine Harvest ASA, the world’s biggest salmon farmer. Fredriksen, a Norwegian-born Cypriot citizen, has an estimated fortune of $16.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, where he currently ranks 51st.

No details were given on the price paid by Troeim for his shares in Golar and Seadrill. Golar LNG closed at $62.16 in New York yesterday and Seadrill at $36.79. In Oslo, Seadrill fell as much as 1.5 percent and traded 0.8 percent lower at 225.4 kroner as of 12:20 p.m.

“We have enjoyed 19 years of co-operation and are both pleased with the achievements we have made during this period,” Troeim and Fredriksen said in the statement. “We look forward to continuing our successful partnership, albeit in a different format in the future.”

‘Absolutely Invaluable’

Troeim will continue to provide advice to Fredriksen’s Seatankers as an external consultant after he steps down July 31. He will also keep his positions on the boards of several companies controlled by Fredriksen.

“They’ve been absolutely invaluable in building Seadrill from nothing,” Chief Financial Officer Rune Magnus Lundetrae said by phone today. “They’re very creative, and they probably work harder than anyone. They are extremely demanding of their surroundings.”

The change will have no impact on Seadrill’s operations and the drilling company is happy to keep Fredriksen as chairman and Troeim as vice chairman, Lundetrae said. The CFO isn’t aware of the details of Troeim’s share acquisition, he said.

Troeim didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail or a phone message left at the London office of Frontline Ltd., Fredriksen’s oil-tanker company.

Financial Exposure

In addition to direct and indirect holdings of about 3.36 million shares in Golar and 2.64 million shares in Seadrill, Troeim has 386,001 shares under options and forward contracts in Golar. In Seadrill, he has call options on about 1 million shares and TRS agreements with exposure to 600,000 shares, the companies said.

Troeim’s move is positive for both companies, as well as North Atlantic Drilling Ltd. and Archer Ltd. which are controlled by Seadrill, Anders Bergland, an analyst at RS Platou Markets AS, said by phone from Oslo. Troeim will have more time to work with Seadrill and Golar, “where we know that he has an extremely strong belief in the long-term value drivers.”

Troeim now also has a significant financial exposure to those companies, Bergland said. “He’s going to have a hand on the wheel.”

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