​Norway’s ex central bank deputy defends due diligence behind Tangen hiring

​Norway’s ex central bank deputy defends due diligence behind Tangen hiring

first_imgEgil MatsenMatsen was part of the appointment committee Norges Bank set up a day before announcing the job of CEO of NBIM on 10 January, alongside the bank’s governor Øystein Olsen and  executive board member Kristine Ryssdal.However, Matsen said the final design of mechanisms to avoid conflicts of interest required broad involvement of parts of Norges Bank and AKO Capital.“A comprehensive dialogue between Norges Bank and AKO at the administrative level could not be established until Tangen was actually employed – it’s about the need for confidentiality in the hiring process,” he wrote.In the Aftenposten article, he also mentioned the offshore registrations of some of Tangen’s interests, naming the Cayman Islands and Jersey as two domiciles used, and said this did not mean the entities avoided taxation.Matsen said he could hardly imagine a person better qualified to manage the oil fund than Tangen.“He has experience and results from the financial markets that few others can claim,” he said, adding that the current international crisis showed how important this was.In talks with Norges Bank, Tangen had shown a deep understanding of the strategic challenges the oil fund would face in the future, he said, adding that these challenges had been reinforced after since those talks started in February.“We need a person with his qualifications to lead the oil fund for years to come,” Matsen said.Matsen’s resignation from Norges Bank was announced in December, and he has recently been appointed to the independent commission set up by the government to review and extract lessons from the COVID-19 outbreak in Norway.Norges Bank’s supervisory council is currently waiting for written replies from the bank’s executive to a long list of questions it posed last week surrounding the hiring of the hedge fund founder.The board has been given today as a deadline to comply. One of the three Norwegian central bankers behind the controversial recruitment of hedge fund multi-millionaire Nicolai Tangen to run the country’s NOK10.5tn (€932bn) sovereign wealth fund has defended the process and insisted the oil fund needs Tangen.Egil Matsen, who recently stepped down as one of Norges Bank’s two deputy governors, said claims that the central bank did not probe the business operations of the newly-appointed chief executive officer before recruiting him – or mull how conflicts of interest should be handled – were wrong.In a self-penned column in Monday’s edition of Norwegian paper Aftenposten, Matsen said: “An important theme in the appointments committee’s discussions with Tangen, and in the executive board’s assessments, was to ensure independence between AKO Capital’s management and his responsibilities as the oil fund’s manager.”A scandal has whipped up in Norway following the surprise announcement on 26 March that Tangen would replace Yngve Slyngstad as CEO of the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) in September. Subsequent revelations that Slyngstad accepted a private flight from the US to Oslo from Tangen in November have prompted the departing SWF leader to apologise to his staff at Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) for a lack of professionalism at the end of his 12-year tenure as CEO.News of the lavish and secretive “Back to University” US seminar hosted by Tangen, which Slyngstad and other prominent Norwegians attended, has brought speculation in the Norwegian media about cronyism – concerns exacerbated by the absence of Tangen’s name on the published list of applicants for the top NBIM role.Matsen said Tangen made it clear the first time the men met, in early February, that his earnings from his UK asset management company AKO Capital would go directly to the charity AKO Foundation if he became head of NBIM.“Well in advance of the board’s decision, Tangen confirmed in writing that he is prepared to comply with the requirements that Norges Bank must impose to secure sufficient information barriers between the management of the oil fund and AKO Capital’s management of its funds,” Matsen said.“He has given the same confirmation regarding the distance from the management of his private investment,” he said.last_img

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