Ako Foundation would, if it were Norwegian, all be Norway’s fifth largest foundation. Only the savings bank foundation DNB distributed more money last year.
The oil fund manager Nicolai Tangen and his wife Katja founded the British foundation I Foundation in 2013 while Tangen still managed its own hedge fund company Ako Capital.
Every year since then, the foundation has received more funding than it has managed to distribute. And last year, the foundation made a huge leap. See the figure below.
At the end of last year, the foundation had more than NOK 7.5 billion in various investments. This is an increase of more than NOK 6 billion in one year.
Most of the increase came as a result of Tangen having to give up its ownership interest in Ako Capital and several other investments to the foundation.
In the end, it became a condition from the politicians in the Storting that he should be allowed to take up the job as head of the Petroleum Fund.
Nicolai Tangen sells out of AKO Capital
Huge if Norwegian
If the foundation had been Norwegian, it would all have been Norway’s fifth largest. Only the foundations of Olav Thon, Gjensidige, DNB and Veritas have more funds.
The general manager, British Philip Lawford, is scarce in the comments when Aftenposten / E24 asks what will be the way forward now that the foundation has become so large.
In an email, he only refers to the foundation’s annual report.
It states that it “plans to continue as a charitable foundation with a focus on education, art and combating climate change”.
– We have no other comments we want to make, the Briton writes in an e-mail.
Handing out a lot
Also measured in the size of funds allocated for various purposes, the Ako Foundation would be at the very top in Norway. Last year, only the Sparebankstiftelsen DNB distributed more money from Norwegian foundations. See the figure below.
The DNB Foundation is clearly the largest in this respect with an approved distribution of NOK 711 million last year.
The Tangen and his wife foundation established, but which they must distance themselves from while he is head of the Oil Fund, decided last year to distribute NOK 271 million.
The board of the foundation has three members. Two of them are considered close to Tangen. It is his friend and former longtime collaborator David Woodburn and his Norwegian friend Henrik Syse.
Half for just two purposes
Since Tangen established the foundation in 2013, it has distributed more than NOK 1.2 billion.
So far, half the money has gone to just two purposes. It is an art foundation that Tangen established in 2016 as well as the business school he studied at in the USA.
Ako Kunststiftelse took over Tangen’s previously privately owned art. Since 2016, it has received more than NOK 350 million from the Ako Foundation. The money is used to purchase art and to partially finance the disputed the art silo in Kristiansand.
The Wharton School in the state of Pennsylvania has received close to 250 million kroner from the Ako Foundation. A lot of these funds have gone to one own building on campus named after Tangen.
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From Sting concert to the Storting: This is the case of Nicolai Tangen
Seminar and Sting concert
It was to Wharton the little famous The “Back to University” tour walked. In November two years ago, Tangen flew friends and community leaders over to a three-day seminar at his old university.
All those who did not attend the seminar, however, best remember the much talked about the concert with Sting.
It was this trip that later triggered all the noise about his employment in the Oil Fund. Which in turn meant that he had to give away the ownership interest in Ako Capital to his foundation.
That is, the foundation as where his, but to which he must now keep a formal and practical distance as long as he is head of the Petroleum Fund.
Will give to climate
The other half of the 1.2 billion kroner Ako Foundation has distributed since 2013 has been used for a number of different purposes.
Most are distributed for various purposes in education and the arts in the UK.
The Strømme Foundation is the largest among Norwegian recipients outside the Ako Art Foundation and Sørlandets Kunstmuseum. This foundation is based on a Christian view of life, and it works especially with education for children in Africa and Asia.
In the last couple of years, climate has also come in as a new purpose.
The shares that go to Ako Kunststiftelse and the completed “Tangen Hall” in Pennsylvania fell sharply last year in percentage.
General manager Peter Lawford does not want to answer whether these two major purposes will continue to receive a lot of money. Or whether their shares will now continue to fall?
Last year, Ako Kunststiftelse received 25 percent of all the money that Ako Foundation distributed.
Norwegians with needs should apply
With so many billions now in the foundation, the funds will probably be spread much further over the coming years.
All last year, good causes in climate amounted to 21 per cent, corresponding to approx. NOK 57 million, of allocated funds.
Norwegian charities in education, art or climate work should know their visiting hours. Because here there can be money to be made.
Until the Ako Foundation received a landslide of money last year, it was very high in terms of how much of the funds were distributed annually.
And now, formally, this foundation is overflowing with money.
The foundation’s daughter earns billions
Also in the coming years, the foundation will probably grow sharply in size.
The foundation’s subsidiary, called Ako Subsidiary Limited 2020, is the largest owner of Ako Capital.
Last year, the daughter received NOK 1.6 billion from Ako Capital’s profit. This amounted to a total of NOK 4.4 billion.
Tangen’s former colleagues are doing reasonably well without him.
The subsidiary is intended to act as a firewall between the foundation and Ako Capital.
In the foundation are close associates of Tangen as mentioned in the majority of the board. But with the daughter, there must be a majority who are independent of him.
This is in accordance with the agreements entered into by Norges Bank and Tangen.
It’s all about avoiding suspicions that there are still some financial connections between Tangen and Ako Capital.