This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

Categories: Europe | Society

Looks are deceptive: This seemingly modest pensioner is Olav Thon, one of the richest people in Norway. He owns numerous commercial properties, including shopping malls and hotels. Ulav is 94 years old, and he still works ten hours a day six days a week.

On Friday evening, when the employees of his company's office have already gone about their business in anticipation of the weekend, Ulav does not even think about going home. And in general, he is not going to retire either, despite his advanced age. In an interview with Scandinavian Traveler magazine , he says: "I come to the office at 7-8 in the morning, spend the whole day in meetings and go home at about six in the evening. A 10-hour working day is the norm for me. I love working."

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

Ulav used to speak in the old way, using fancy constructions and grammatical forms that are no longer in use. Surely 20-year-old Norwegians have never heard such verb forms that he uses. So they said in his native village of Ol in the Hallingdal Valley.

Olav Thon is the Chairman of the Management Board of Olav Thon Gruppen (OTG), which owns shopping malls and hotels in Norway and abroad, as well as an airport and chemical production. "I can't be everywhere every day, but not a single week goes by that I don't know about the state of sales and other things in each location. When it comes to investing in OTG, few things are solved without my "no" or "yes"," he says in an interview.

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

Getting on the Forbes billionaires list is not bad for a farm boy who hasn't even graduated from school. "I wanted to study medicine, but then the war broke out in Europe in 1939. My parents decided it wouldn't be safe if I left home, so I stayed in Hallingdal, wondering what to do next. There were fox farms in this area, so I took some fox skins with me and went to Oslo to sell them."

The resourceful boy achieved success step by step, and a year later Ulav opened his own fur business on the western outskirts of Oslo. By that time, he had finally said goodbye to his home and life on the farm. "Things were going so well that I opened a branch in the center of Oslo the very next year. When I was in my early 20s, the building where my store was located was put up for sale. I bought it."

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

It was a whole building on Karl Johan Street, one of the main streets in Oslo. Now there is a large shopping center Arkaden. Ulav paid 1.4 million Norwegian kroner for this building, but he had only 80 thousand kroner, and he borrowed the rest of the amount. "I was an interesting client for banks, and I was always willingly given loans," Ulav says, winking — this is his signature gesture. "I always made payments on time."

He didn't care about the possible risks. As a history student, he was well aware that the value of real estate usually increases. "Take, for example, the farms in Hallingdal. A couple hundred years ago, you could buy them for a few measly dollars. They have been growing in price all the time, except for a couple of temporary declines, for example in 1929 and 1990. Therefore, I have never considered my purchase risky. This concerns the ownership of physical assets. Banks that complain that they have a lot of real estate are not really experiencing big problems."

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

In Norway, as in other countries, people who know how to make money earn enemies. Ulava Tun was criticized for many things by politicians, journalists and writers. "I'm not worried about this type of thing at all. I have great faith in my own abilities. Does that sound too arrogant?"

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

Ulav Tun differs from most billionaires in his modesty and unpretentiousness. "I drive a Volkswagen, and I have only one ski and a bike." The red knitted hat that he likes to wear was knitted by his wife Sissel. On the inside there is a note with his phone number and a message that a reward of 500 Norwegian kroner awaits the finder of the hat.

Modesty is a trait that Ulav carried through all 75 years of life in Oslo. According to him, he has very few bosses and everyone is doing their own thing, including himself.

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

"To succeed in business, the most important thing is to be able to juggle several balls at once. When I buy a new property or enter a new market, I do my best to develop it further. I don't sell anything to earn a few crowns more, and I don't invest money where the profit may be less."

This humble grandpa in a beanie is actually a Norwegian billionaire from the Forbes list

Ulav Tun spends a lot of time in nature. He recently donated a building to the Norwegian Tracking Association. In 2013, he opened his own charitable foundation and transferred his company to it. Ulava has no children, and he likes to say that you can't take money with you to the next world, so when he dies, his entire fortune will go to good causes. The Foundation participates in the management of OTG and supports scientific research in the field of medicine and entrepreneurship. Ulav has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. "I think science is an exciting and important subject. I dreamed of studying medicine, but if I became a doctor, I probably wouldn't practice. I would rather build a hospital."

Keywords: Forbes | Business | Businessman | Charity | Age | Billionaires | Real estate | Norway

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