Norwegian consultancy Gabler said it has begun a major business expansion plan, which has been helped by the mandate to run Nicolai Tangen’s NOK4.5bn fortune – part of the conflict-management plan being put in place around the incoming oil fund chief.
Aksel Bjerkvik, chief executive officer of the Oslo-based pensions and investment consultancy, said: “We are now implementing a major strategic shift. This is the first step in an international initiative.”
Gabler said broad media coverage in recent times had now led to many inquiries for its services.
“The company has received its first customer from Sweden, and talks are underway with several Danish pension funds,” it said on its website.
Nearly a year ago, Gabler sold 70% of its shares to Nordic Insurance Consolidation Group (NICG) founder Thomas Vinge Hansen and unnamed owners of a Swiss family office – it said new backing would allow it to expand into other Nordic countries.
Under those plans, Gabler said at the time it would continue providing independent services to its customers in Norway, while also becoming a central platform for the new owner’s ambitions in the Nordic market.
At the end of May, Gabler was tasked with managing Tangen’s personal wealth for the duration of his employment as CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the country’s NOK10.1trn sovereign wealth fund.
Tangen’s appointment as the next head of the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) from September has proved highly controversial in Norway since it was announced in March, not least because of concerns that his vast resources could mean conflicts of interest once he is in the powerful new role.
Gabler’s appointment to handle Tangen’s money in a blind trust – with lawyer Haakon Blaauw making decisions on Tangen’s behalf - - was part of Norges Bank’s plan to manage potential conflicts of interests.
Gabler said it had applied to the Norwegian FSA (Finanstilsynet) for a licence to operate as a portfolio manager, and expected this to be approved.
“Signing a contract with a new large customer has been useful for the company, which has long considered the possibility of expanding the investment part of the business,” the firm said, adding that it now wanted to offer active asset management to other parties with large fortunes.
This market was potentially huge, Gabler said, with the Norwegian private pensions market totalling NOK500bn and growth in individually wealthy people.
However, Gabler cited other factors besides the publicity around the Tangen contract as leading to the high level of demand for advice it was receiving – including great uncertainty about the coronavirus situation and record-low interest rates.
“We make a living from understanding and communicating risk and volatility. The demand for a player like us has probably been strengthened through by the coronavirus,” Bjerkvik said.
Gabler, whose services include advice, reporting and analysis as well as pension investment products, said its clients include 64 of Norway’s largest pension funds.
Some of the quotes Gabler used in its announcement were first published in an article in Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende.