19-year-old Norwegian girl is world's youngest billionaire: Forbes

Alexandra Andresen, a lover of horses, is the world's youngest billionaire at just 19.
Alexandra Andresen, a lover of horses, is the world's youngest billionaire at just 19. PHOTO: ALEXANDRAANDRESEN/INSTAGRAM

A Norwegian teenager has been named the world's youngest billionaire, following business magazine Forbes' release of its 2016 ranking of the world's richest people on Tuesday (March 1).

Ms Alexandra Andresen, 19, who is worth an estimated US$1.2 billion (S$1.68 billion), has been ranked joint 1476th on the 1,810-strong list along with her 20-year-old sister Katharina.

The sisters' wealth stems from the 42.2 per cent stakes they each hold in private investment company Ferd. Their father, Mr Johan Andresen, transferred the stock to them in 2007, although he still maintains control of the company.

The Ferd owners💪🏻 Photo by: Frédéric Boudin

The Ferd owners💪🏻 Photo by: Frédéric Boudin

A post shared by Alexandra (@alexandraandresen) on

But the duo lead comparatively low-key lives. Alexandra's net worth was not known until she turned 17, when the authorities began publishing her annual tax return figures.

The Telegraph reported that Mr Andresen insisted that his daughters buy their cars second-hand. They also attended a local state school in Oslo after returning from stints in British boarding schools.

"I actually save all the time, I have always done," Ms Andresen said in an interview with Ferd's corporate magazine in 2015.

"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."

Just out of high school, Ms Andresen is a professional dressage rider currently based in Germany, where she competes in international competitions and hopes to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Her Instagram page, which has nearly 22,000 followers, showcases her love for horses and the sport.

But while she is fully focused on her professional riding career for now, she has not ruled out taking her place in the family company eventually.

In a post on Ferd's website, she wrote: "I feel a great responsibility. I want to help develop Ferd and make it even better."

According to Forbes, Ferd started out in 1849 as a tobacco-making company before leaving the industry in 2005, when it sold its share for nearly US$500 million.

It is now a holding company with diverse interests, which include real estate and a hedge fund.

Forbes' assistant managing editor, Kerry Dolan, told The Telegraph that it was remarkable the three youngest billionaires on the list were all Norwegian. The third youngest is 22-year-old Gustav Magnar Witzoe - with a net worth of US$1.1 billion - after he inherited 47 per cent of SalMar ASA, a leading farmed salmon producer.

"Their fortune is all inherited," Ms Dolan noted, adding that tax reasons and the Scandivanian culture of handing over fortunes to the younger generation earlier so as to engage them in the family business were possible explanations.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with a net worth of US$75 billion, topped Forbes' rankings for the third year running.


From left: Bill Gates, Amancio Ortage and Warren Buffet are the three richest man in the world, according to Forbes. PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega, best known for the retail chain Zara, took second spot with US$67 billion, while US investor Warren Buffet's US$60.8 billion fortune placed him third.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the biggest mover on the list, climbing 10 spots to sixth after his net worth reached US$44.6 billion - up from US$33.4 billion last year.