Meet the 19-Year-Old Who Just Became The World’s Youngest Billionaire
By Laura Dang
March 1, 2016
A 19-year-old woman born to a Norwegian family that founded their wealth in the tobacco industry has inherited the title of world’s youngest billionaire.
Alexandra Andresen made Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world this year after she inherited a $1.2 billion fortune from her father, Johan F. Andresen.
According to the Telegraph, the young Andresen is a professional dressage rider who now resides in Germany to pursue a career as a competitive horse rider.
Forbes compiled a ranking of the people around the world who are worth at least a billion dollars. Andresen and her older sister Katharina, 20, made Forbes’ list for the first time and landed a spot as the 1,476th and 1,475th richest people in the world, respectively, out of 1,810 people on the list.
Katharina is the second youngest on the list while the third youngest billionaire is 22-year-old Gustav Magnar Witzoe. Kerry Dolan, assistant managing editor of Forbes, told the Telegraph:
“Their fortune is all inherited, but it is remarkable that the three youngest billionaires on the list are Norwegian.”
According to Dolan, fortunes in Scandinavian cultures are often passed down to the younger generation earlier than in other countries as a means of engaging them in the family business. She also speculates that there are tax reasons for the transfer of cash.
In an interview on her company website, Andresen discussed her family wealth and her definition of success. She said:
“I feel a great responsibility. In a way I think that i have not made me deserving of this, while I want to help develop Ferd and make it even better. Finding a way to give something back, I think is difficult. The fact that my family has resources has given me many opportunities, especially in the riding, because it requires a lot of capital. But it is not enough to have money to succeed.”
The Andresen sisters inherited their fortune after their father transferred his stake in Norway’s conglomerate company, Ferd Holdings, to them in 2007. The family founded their fortune in the tobacco industry thanks to her great, great, great grandfather who started what would become Norway’s leading cigarette producer in 1849.
The company was sold for $500 million in 2005 for ethical reasons and the wealth was invested in property and hedge funds. Ferd Holdings, which was owned by their father, operates in a number of businesses including real estate and private equity. Their father gave 80% of the shares in his company to his two daughters two years later.
Andresen and her sister made Forbes’ list this year as they were required to publish their tax returns after reaching the age of 17.
Their personal finances became a matter of public knowledge and the two made Forbes’ list for the first time.
The teenage billionaire and equestrian revealed during an interview last year with Ferd’s corporate magazine that they are quite money conscious. Andresen said:
“I actually save all the time, I have always done. I save when I get my weekly allowance, and I save the cash prizes I win in competitions or if I get money as a gift for my birthday. It means I can buy myself things I really want, like a bag or a pair of shoes, without having to ask mum or dad for money.”
Her older sister Katharina admits that there are some negatives and positives in being in such a wealthy family. Both sisters lead pretty private lives and they are cautious about their relationships with others. She said:
“There is a lot of pressure and awkward questions. Our name is so associated with money that is always the subject of questions … “
“It has been important for me when I get to know new people, so that they see me and not the money. I have to see how the person is before I let them get close to me.”
Andresen is an international competitive horseback rider who has won a number of awards on her horse, Belamour, at the European Young Riders Championships in 2013 and 2014. She is believed to be dating Joachim Tollefsen, 24, a Norwegian professional mixed martial arts fighter.
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