The incoming Norges Bank chief executive, Nicolai Tangen, will divest his holdings in the London-based hedge fund he founded to satisfy conflict of interest concerns around his appointment. He starts in September.
Tangen will permanently transfer his holdings and dividend rights from AKO Capital to the hedge fund’s charitable foundation, Norges Bank said Monday. He will also shift all his personal fund investments to be held as bank deposits.
Tangen will replace Yngve Slyngstad, who resigned as chief executive after a dozen years heading the sovereign wealth fund.
“I have taken these actions to remove any doubt about which hat I am now wearing,” Tangen said in a statement. “I want to be CEO of the oil fund, and have only one objective: creating wealth for future generations.”
The decision addresses concerns raised earlier this month by the Storting Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the parliamentary committee in Norway that also audits the central bank.
Tangen took other precautionary measures to prevent a conflict of interest at Norges Bank, but that was not enough for the supervisory board, which pointed out that he still had an ownership stake in his former company. The Norwegian hedge fund manager founded AKO Capital 15 years ago in London.
The Norges Bank executive board disagreed with the assessment. Board governor Øystein Olsen argued at the parliamentary hearing that Tangen emerged as the strongest candidate from the pool earlier this year.
“The executive board has been of the opinion that the contractual framework surrounding Tangen’s employment contract was sufficient in preventing potential conflicts of interest, but we have noted, of course, that the Storting takes a different view,” Olsen, said in a statement.
“Their concerns are something the executive board, in dialogue with Nicolai Tangen, has now addressed,” he added.
The incoming chief executive had been embroiled in controversy for months. A Norwegian newspaper reported soon after his appointment in March that predecessor Slyngstad took part in a private seminar Tangen hosted months before at the University of Pennsylvania.
This news led to a public outcry about cronyism around his appointment, allegations Norges Bank has denied.