The Hedge Fund Manager Tapped to Lead Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund

Nicolai Tangen, chief executive and CIO of AKO Capital, will replace Yngve Slyngstad as CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management.

Nicolai Tangen (Courtesy Norges Bank / Tony Colli)

Nicolai Tangen

(Courtesy Norges Bank / Tony Colli)

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has hired a European hedge fund manager as its next chief executive.

Norges Bank Investment Management — responsible for investing Norway’s roughly 9.9 trillion kroner ($941 billion) Government Pension Fund Global — announced Thursday that its executive board had appointed Nicolai Tangen, the chief executive and CIO of AKO Capital, as its new CEO starting in September.

Tangen replaces Yngve Slyngstad, who last fall announced his intention to resign after 12 years as Norges Bank’s chief executive. The oil fund’s assets rose to a record $1 trillion under Slyngstad’s leadership, but have declined sharply this year amid global equity market losses.

“The executive board feels confident in Nicolai Tangen being the best candidate to manage the Government Pension Fund Global,” executive board chair Øystein Olsen said in a statement announcing the appointment. “Tangen has built up one of Europe’s leading investment firms and has delivered very good financial results as an international investment manager.”

Olsen added that Tangen has “extensive experience with equity management, which is the fund’s largest asset class.”


[II Deep Dive: Norway’s Massive Pension Fund Returns 19.9 Percent]

Tangen is a London-based hedge fund manager who founded AKO Capital in 2005 after about five years at British hedge fund firm Egerton Capital, where he served as a partner. AKO Capital has 70 employees and manages around $16.4 billion, according to the firm’s website. Its hedge fund strategies include long-only and long-short equity funds, and its clients include endowments, foundations, and family offices.

In a statement Thursday, Tangen called the CEO role at Norges Bank a “dream job.”

“It is with great humility and pride that I will continue and further develop the impressive work that Yngve Slyngstad and his team in Norges Bank Investment Management has carried out with ensuring high return on the oil wealth of all Norwegians and being at the forefront of developing a responsible ownership and investment practice globally,” he said.

According to a separate statement from AKO Capital, Tangen will step down from AKO’s board and will not become the firm’s chairman, as he originally planned to do. Tangen will transfer part of his economic interest in the firm to AKO’s other partners, with the rest going to the AKO Foundation.

Co-chief executive Patrick Hargreaves will take over as the hedge fund firm’s CEO, while co-founder Gorm Thomassen will continue to manage AKO’s European funds as CIO alongside portfolio manager Mike Yates.

“As a proud Norwegian, Nicolai felt this to be a position, and an opportunity to have a meaningful positive impact on his home country, that he simply could not turn down,” AKO Capital said.