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# 301 Olav Thon $6.17B

Random fact: Started out selling Christmas cards to neighbors at age eight.


Thon is the founder and chairman of Olav Thon Gruppen, Norway's largest closely held real estate company. The Oslo-based business has almost 100 shopping centers, 89 hotels and about 500 commercial properties. The billionaire set up a charitable foundation in December 2013 that now controls the company.

As of :
Last change -$275M ( -4.3%)
YTD change -$339M ( -5.2%)
Industry Real Estate
Biggest asset Olav Thon Gruppen
Citizenship Norway
Age 96
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Olav Thon's net worth of $6.17B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Thon's fortune is derived from his stake in Olav Thon Gruppen. The property group has 99 shopping centers, 89 hotels and about 500 commercial properties, according to its 2018 annual report. It's the largest closely held property company in Norway, according to the same report.

Thon began passing his stake to the Olav Thon Foundation in December 2013. He remains chairman of the foundation, which seeks to maintain stable management while applying Thon's management principles, according to its website. The shares are attributed to him based on information provided by his biographer, Hallgrim Berg, and reflecting his status as founder, and the control he has over the group.

It's valued based on the average price-to-book value multiple of two publicly traded peer companies: Kungsleden and Norwegian Property. It had equity of 56 billion Norwegian krone ($6.4 billion) in 2018, according to its annual report. The valuation was updated on Aug. 13, 2019 to reflect 2018 financials and this led to an increase in the calculation of about $700 million.

Thon controls Olav Thon Eiendomsselskap, an Olav Thon Gruppen subsidiary that trades on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The company's low dividend yield relative to its peers means the market capitalization doesn't reflect its true value, according to Oslo-based ABG Sundal Collier analyst Andreas Strand. As a result, the public subsidiary hasn't been valued separately.

Thon uses the dividends from the Thon Group to pay his Norwegian wealth taxes, according to Berg. Because of this, cash and investable assets aren't included in the calculation.

The foundation began awarding annual grants of up to 100 million Norwegian krone in 2015, according to its website, and a liability is included here to reflect grants that it's calculated to have made since then.

Arne Sperre, a spokesperson Olav Thon Group, disputed the calculation of Thon's net worth because the shares have been transferred to his foundation.


Birthdate: 6/29/1923
Family: Married, No children

Olav Thon was born on a farm in Hallingdal, Norway, in 1923, and as a youth earned money selling Christmas cards to his neighbors and hikers across nearby Djup Lake. The outbreak of World War II kept him from going abroad to study medicine and, in 1941, he moved to Oslo to sell fur and leather goods produced on the family's farm. He used the profits to establish his real estate investment company, Olav Thon Gruppen.

Thon first invested in Oslo properties, buying a block on Karl Johans, the city's premier street, in 1950. He diversified into restaurants and hotels, establishing the Rainbow Hotels chain in 1989, and expanded to shopping malls in the 1990s. The Olav Thon Gruppen owns more than 475 properties in Norway, Sweden and nearby countries, and, according to the company's 2011 financial statements, controls 10,000 hotel rooms, 88 shopping malls and three Oslo restaurants.

Thon shuns the trappings of wealth, even insisting on buying his snow skis when they go on sale in the spring, Hallgrim Berg, author of the biography "Olav Thon: Billionaire in a Parka," said in a phone interview. Since turning 67 in 1990, when he became eligible for a state pension, he has paid more than 900 million Norwegian kroner in personal income tax, making him Norway's largest taxpayer during the period, Berg said.

The billionaire is married and has no children, and pledged to donate his wealth to medical research charities to benefit future generations in September 2008. He gifted shares in his company to his foundation five years later, in an attempt to safeguard the future of the company after his death. A hiker and skier, he has travelled the equivalent of three times round the world -- more than any of his countrymen, Berg said. Thon has established three charities aimed at expanding young people's access to outdoor activities.

  • 1923 Olav Thon is born on a farm in Hallingdal, Norway.
  • 1941 Begins buying and selling leather and fur in Oslo.
  • 1950 Purchases property on Karl Johan, Oslo's premier shopping street.
  • 1974 Acquires first hotel, the Hotel Bristol.
  • 1992 Acquired Unger, a soap factory on the brink of bankruptcy.
  • 2005 Rainbow hotel group is renamed Thon Hotels.
  • 2013 Passes control of Olav Thon Group to his foundation.
  • 2015 Thon Hotels celebrates 10th anniversary with a countrywide tour.