19 years old Norwegian Teenager Alexandra Andresen has been named the official youngest billionaire in the world this month with a $1.2 billion (£862 million) fortune, after she was required to declare her finances to Norway’s taxman when she hit adulthood.
Her fortune comes from her father Johan Andresen, who transferred 42% of the stock in Ferd, the family’s centuries-old private-investment company, to her in 2007. Her sister Katharina, who at 20 is the second-youngest billionaire in the world, is also worth $1.2 billion after also securing a 42% stake in the company from her father.
The sisters each own 42.2 percent of the private company and have for a while. Despite their paper wealth, they have been able to live in relative normalness in Norway until recently. For individuals above the age 17, Norwegian tax authorities annually publish tax return numbers, so since hitting legal age, the sisters have gotten attention for their stakes. Katharina in an interview on Norwegian television said that she got 500 new friend requests on when details on her wealth first were published in 2014.
The company Ferd, which means “journey” in Norwegian, has roots dating back to 1849, when Alexandra and Katharina’s great-great-great grandfather Johan Henrik Andresen bought J.L. Tiedemanns tobacco factory, starting what was to be the market leading cigarette maker in Norway for over 150 years. The family remained in the tobacco industry until 2005, when it sold its share to Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni for almost $500 million. Today Ferd is a holding company with diverse interests spanning private equity holdings, real estate, security investments and a hedge fund. Today Johan H., the sisters’ father and chairman of the board, member of the fifth generation, owns 15.2% but still has 70 percent of the votes and the T handle @FerdOwner through which he spreads his thoughts to some 55,000 followers.