CEO of world’s biggest wealth fund reflects on being unpopular

After months of drama and doubt, Nicolai Tangen is finally set to become the chief executive of Norway’s EUR 1trn wealth fund. He says staying cool in the face of unpopularity was key.

Nicolai Tangen, the incoming CEO of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, speaks during a news conference at the central bank in Oslo, Norway, May 28, 2020. Picture taken May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche/File Photo | Photo: GWLADYS FOUCHE/REUTERS / X03825

The 54-year-old will start running the world’s biggest sovereign investor on Sept. 1. To secure the job, Tangen had to strike a last-minute deal to give up the hedge fund he founded -- AKO Capital LLP -- after parliament balked at the potential conflict of interest.

For months, Tangen has had his face splashed all over Norwegian media as union bosses, politicians and academics listed why he was the wrong man to run their nation’s piggy bank. His life as a London-based hedge fund manager, his vast personal wealth -- average Norwegians would never be able to identify with him -- and his hobnobbing with the world’s jet-set elite made him an easy target for his critics.

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