The year is 1915 and the first world war rages for the second consecutive year. Reports about mine explosions come regularly and the merchant shipping that dares to leave Swedish ports does so at great risk. Sven Salén works at the Gothenburg Trading Bank after a year’s training at the Gothenburg Trading Institute. In the autumn of 1915 Sven Salén decides to go into the shipping business. At the age of 25 he buys his first vessel, a 200 ton motor barge called “Robur”. The war has driven up freight prices and Sven Salén sees the possibilities. Shortly after his first acquisition, Sven Salén purchases yet another motorised schooner by the name of “Ida” and thereafter the sailing ship “Puerto Montt”. He purchases the sailing ship on the American west coast, from a German who has emigrated to Chile, which means that it takes two months to complete the transaction. The fast sailing vessel is capable of reaching speeds of around 17.5 knots. Motor vessels of the time could seldom reach more than ten knots, but on the other hand, they did not have to rely on the wind. He renames the vessel “Transocean” and after a shaky start to his ship owning career, Sven Salén is finally sailing the world’s oceans.
Success and adversity
“Roburs” time under Sven Salén’s ownership is short. After a shipping accident he sells the vessel in 1916. In total, Sven Salén owns two fully rigged ships during the 1910s, “Transocean” and “Eros” that is purchased in 1920, plus a number of small sailing cargo vessels of some 200 tons. In conjunction with the declaration of peace in 1918 the price of freight tonnage drops dramatically and many of the vessels become more or less worthless. Sven Salén is lucky though. Just before the end of the war in 1918, he manages to sell “Transocean” to a shipping company in Gothenburg for a million SEK. When the new owner a little while later, is forced to sell the ship, he is only able to raise 50,000 SEK. The other ship “Eros” is however, badly storm damaged after a journey from the USA to South Africa. The load is both late in arriving and unsellable and Sven Salén is compelled to repay the monies that the buyer paid in advance.
Banana fever rages
At the beginning of the 1920s Sven Salén meets Norwegian Carl Matthiessen who intends to start importing bananas into Sweden. Transporting bananas is a risk filled operation as bananas require a cool atmosphere so as not to rot during transportation. After a load of bananas is ruined after re-loading in Rotterdam on the way to Gothenburg, Sven Salén and Carl Matthiessen decide to transport the loads themselves. Bananas quickly become very popular and banana sales in Sweden increased very considerably from less than 500 tons in 1920 to more than 10,000 tons in 1930. This development also means that the Banana Company’s shipping department becomes a pioneer in the development of completely refrigerated vessels. At the beginning of the 1940s Sven Salén becomes the owner of the Banana Company whilst Carl remains as Managing Director.
During the 1930s a close contact is also established with Jacob Wallenberg and the Enskilda Bank, where Jacob Wallenberg’s collaboration with and confidence in Sven Salén is a directly determining factor for the development of the operations. For several decades into the future the board of directors solely consists of Sven Salén and Jacob Wallenberg.
Into the shipbuilding industry during the war
During the 1930s the Nazi takeover of power was reflected in merchant mariners experiences of German ports and with the outbreak of war in 1939 there followed blockades, mines and torpedo attacks and the loss of thousands of civilian sailors lives. Sweden is closed in but a limited Swedish boat traffic was granted safe conduct for domestic provisions. But in the winter of 1941-42 Sven Salén is compelled to completely discontinue traffic due to the danger of mines. Despite the fact that the second world war initiated completely new rules for shipping companies’ operations, Sven Salén succeeded in strengthening his economic position during the war, amongst other things, by the acquisition of Ekensberg’s shipyard.
Transport of refugees
At the end of the second world war Folke Bernadotte negotiates with Himmler, the head of the SS, to collect prisoners from the concentration camps and transport them to Sweden. He therefore asks Sven Salén to provide ships to transport prisoners from Lübeck to Trelleborg. On the 3rd of May 1945 a thousand concentration camp prisoners are landed from the “Lillie Matthiessen” and “Magdalena” vessels.
After the end of thee with war Sven Salén’s ships also transport refugees on an American troop transport vessel that he converts for refugee transport and renames “Anna Salén”. The journeys go from the war ravished Europe’s many collection camps to Australia and Canada with “Anna Salén”.
In the beginning of the 1940s Sven Salén moves his office to Strandvägen where he shares office spacCentral European Trading Company, Meropa, of which he owns half. The other half is owned by Hungarian Kalman Lauer. The young Raoul Wallenberg also works in this office and it is Kalman Lauer who suggests that he would be a suitable person to send to Budapest to save Hungarian Jews.
“Oil is the future”
Around 1950 Sven Salén builds a close business relationship with Jim Watts at Chase Manhattan Bank in the USA, and learns from him what the bank believes about future oil consumption and the transportation of oil. In 1951 Sven Salén therefore orders his first oil tanker, the 16,500 ton “Dagmar Salén”. Tanker shipping grows during the 1950s and in 1958 the 40,000 ton “Sven Salén” is delivered and is the Swedish merchant fleet’s biggest ship and the biggest of its type in the world. By the end of the 1960s competition is fierce, but the Salén Shipping Company is one of the biggest tanker shipping concerns in the world and the tanker division dominates the company’s turnover and profits. In October 1969 the 210,000 ton “Sea Sovereign” is launched which is at the time, Sweden’s biggest ship. In the personnel newspaper Sven Salén calls the event “the Swedish merchant fleet’s entry into the mammoth era”.
Sture Ödner joins when business starts to boom
The 1950s entail a rapid expansion for the shipping industry in general and Salén shipping in particular. The fleet of vessels grows rapidly with both purchases and new orders to their own shipyards Ekensberg in Stockholm and Eriksberg in Gothenburg. In 1955 Sven Salén appoints the former up and coming young man, Sture Ödner, to Vice Managing Director and in this environment Ödners daring and sharp business sense comes into its own. Refrigerated ships become bigger and more modern. But business goes so well that the shipping company’s own tonnage is not sufficient and instead, they start to hire ships on time charter. During the 1950s Saléns grows from a position of between number 15 and 20 of the world’s biggest shipping companies to become the fifth largest. The market share increases, types of transported goods become more numerous and the freight area spreads to the whole world and in the 1960s they have built up the world’s largest fleet of refrigerated shipping.
The banana business grows
During the second world war, quite naturally the banana trade comes to a complete stop, but as early as 1946 imports increase to 21,000 tons of bananas. At the same time, the refrigeration technique is developed and Salén’s fleet expands to be able to transport all possible goods, over the whole world – everything from frozen whale meat to Japan to armoured vehicles to American military bases in the Pacific. During the 1960s, turnover is doubled to 165 million SEK and the Banana Company now imports everything possible that Sweden cannot grow itself or have access to during the winter. In the middle of the 1960s fruit imports into Sweden go through a structural rationalisation in order to reduce the risks for the parties involved. In 1972 the Salén-owned Banana Company fuses with the Johnsson-owned Sandén group and creates JS Saba. In the first year of operation turnover reaches 400 million SEK, that over the coming ten years will grow to 15 billion SEK, under expansive Managing Director, Thore Nydahl’s leadership. In 1978 banana imports reach 80,000 tons – the equivalent of 10 kilos of bananas per Swede, per year.
Generation change within the group
During the 1960s shipping is the third largest export business in Sweden and the Salén Shipping company starts the decade with good finances and a strong position on the market. In 1962 Sture Ödner is appointed Managing Director, whilst Sven Salén takes on the role of Chairman of the group. Ödner still has his management business sense and recklessness and the group continues to attract daring young men who want to effect big business. In 1963 one of Sven Salén’s sons, Christer, starts with the refrigerated shipping division and in 1966 Sven Salén’s other son Sven Hampus starts with the tanker division and soon thereafter, the brothers form their own company Salénia. The naming of the 210,000 ton tanker ”Sea Sovereign” on the 23rd of October 1969 was to be Sven Salén’s last official appearance prior to his death on the 29th October. After him, he left, built up from nothing, a worldwide shipping company on a strong upward curve.
The purchase of Rex
On the 17th February 1967 the purchase of the REX group of companies is announced. This includes the Rederi AB Rex, Transoil, Bratt-Götha companies and TOR Line. This is one of the biggest shipping company mergers until this time in Sweden. The acquisition was initiated by Marcus Wallenberg at the Enskilda Bank. Prior to the acquisition “dry-loads” had not been its own shipping company, but with the help of the Suez crisis the acquisition of Rex became a tentative start for the Salén Shipping Company’s “dry-load” operations. The turnover for the whole group of companies is anticipated to be a billion SEK after the merger and the following year the group overtakes Sweden’s, until then, biggest shipping company, Broströms, in tonnage. The acquisition also included TOR Line that runs combined goods and passenger traffic on the North Sea using for that time, the new ro-ro, roll on/roll off ferries. The concept can be recognised in today’s giant ferries, with bars that open as soon as the ship leaves port, tax- free, dance and musical entertainment. All this had the novelty of being new in 1967, but the shipping company is no major success in economic terms.
Oil crisis for tanker shipping
Until 1973 nearly everything was simple, with continual growth in the shipping company. Sweden is one of the world’s leading shipping nations, alongside Norway and Greece. Certain worrying clouds begin to be seen, above all, relating to oil from the Middle-East. In 1972 four new 350,000 ton ships are ordered from Kockums and a further three the following year. A contributing factor to these large orders is to obtain a depreciation base and thereby reduce the company’s taxes, as they calculate that they would still generate profits in the future too. It should be remembered that at the time corporation tax in Sweden was more than 50 per cent. Some of the ships were also built against a contract with an American oil giant, that was later cancelled when the ships were completed. The decision to order the ships however will show to have been ill-advised.
The Salén group of companies is forced to lay-off personnel, at the same time as selling off assets in other operations such as shareholdings in NK and a total of twelve ships – tankers, dry-load ships and refrigerated ships – and what is more, at bargain basement prices. In terms of tonnage, the Swedish merchant marine fleet is halved between 1976 and 1978.
Major shipyard acquisitions
The single biggest single event for the Salén Shipping Company during the 1970s was the taking over of the country’s biggest shipyard, Götaverken. The yard has a weak profitability and has difficulty in competing, in terms of prices, with foreign competition. With a promise of tax reductions the Swedish Finance Minister, Gunnar Sträng, succeeds in persuading Sture Ödner in carrying out a reconstruction of Götaverken. In 1971 the Salén Shipping Company takes over. For 150 million in fresh capital Saléns can reduce the taxes on their profits with the help of new depreciation rules, but in the long-term, the acquisition takes much of the executive leadership’s time.
With oil crises, a stone dead tanker market and cancelled major bookings for ships, problems rapidly accumulate. When the state, in 1977, buys back Götaverken again, in order to secure employment for the 10,000 shipyard employees, Sture Ödner states: “Saléns should never again go in as owner of a shipyard”. At the end of the day, a summary by the Minister of Industry, Rune B Johansson, showed that the state support of the shipyard industry cost the tax payer 12.5 billion Swedish Kronor in order to keep a doomed industry alive.
New operations during the 1970s
During the second half of the 1970s economic reality has caught up with the Salén Shipping Company, that changes its name to Saléninvest and is quoted on the stock exchange in 1976. But despite the difficult situation for shipping, Saléns manage to execute other successful business.
Salén & Wicander had already been founded in 1946 by Sven Salén and August ”Pippi” Wicander, and grows during the 1950s into a general trading company with varying activities – with a successful general agency for Toyota cars, alongside an agency for, amongst others, Rolls Royce aero engines, Kawasaki Motorcycles and Siwertell tank cleaning systems – where several of the operations make good profits.
In 1970 the air freight company Cargolux is founded, based in Luxemburg in order to eliminate the risk of conflict with SAS. The company, that transports everything from vegetables to circus animals has a somewhat slow start, but when Saléns sells its holdings in the company in 1991, Cargolux is one of the world’s leading air freight companies with fourteen Boeing 747 planes.
In the wake of the first oil crisis Saléns also start operations within the oil business, with both oil rigs and prospecting. In 1978 the operations, under the name of Salén Energy, is the only company in the group that is expected to make substantial profits, first and foremost as a result of the hiring out of oil rigs.
In the middle of the 1970s the Salén house is also built in central Stockholm, that when broken up and parts sold in 1979 and 1983 pays back the investment several times over.
The beginning of the 1980s is just as the 1970s ended - turbulent. Already at the end of the 1970s Sven Hampus and Christer take a more conservative position and sell off all the tanker ships from their own Salénia, but Sture Ödner decides to retain the largest tankers that the Salén Shipping Company ordered during the 1970s.
Even so, Saléns accumulates its efforts in order to adapt to the tougher times. The three divisions, dry cargo, refrigerated cargo and tankers are each placed in their own independent companies with the parent company at the head, together with Salén Energy and Salén & Wicander. Refrigerated cargo and dry cargo pull the heaviest loads. Refrigerated transport or Salén Reefer Services as the company is called, is the largest shipping company in the world for the transportation of bananas with close to one third of the world’s bananas. One prerequisite to win the struggle for customers is that the ships are sufficiently modern and therefore Refrigerated Cargos Managing Director, Mats Ruhne wants to invest in at least 10 new ships within a few years. Salén Dry Cargo has, under the leadership of Gunnar Rosengren, sold off its own ships and puts a great deal into hired tonnage for the transport of coal, wheat, ore and timber. At the turn of the decade, the company increases turnover by 400 per cent with good profitability and in 1981it is the world’s largest grain transporter to the Russians. But tankers make enormous losses after the oil crisis.
A serious crisis
In the autumn of 1982 the state of the shipping market takes a downward turn. Refrigerated shipping continues quite well but with a weak outlook and Dry Cargo struggles forward on a weak market and the tanker operation’s losses are expected to eat up the whole of the year’s profits. At the same time other group assets are sold off, such as TOR Line, the Salén House and JS Saba. In this position, Mats Ruhne gets his way to order thirteen new, expensive refrigerated vessels. 1983 is one of the most difficult years for shipping since the second world war.
In 1984 the top management work to produce a plan for the financial reconstruction of Saléninvest. In the autumn of 1984 the company produces a profit and loss account and negotiates with the total of 20 banks that are affected. Sven Hampus Salén calls on Olof Palme in order to persuade the government to help the group of companies through the crisis, but to no avail.
Late in the evening of Tuesday the 18th of December Saléninvest’s management finally order all company owned vessels throughout the world to leave their ports, so that they could not be impounded by different countries’ creditors. On the morning of the 19th of December a petition for bankruptcy is filed with Stockholm’s city court.
The company lives on
After the bankruptcy both the banks and the official receiver become the owners of the shipping and their operations, which even so, continue in different forms. As early as 1983 Managing Director Gunnar Rosengren has formed the Argonaut AB company as an offshoot from the tanker shipping company. The same thing is done in other areas of the group. The dry cargo company, Salén Dry Cargo sells two dry cargo ships to the newly formed Monitor Shipping and the Largus Exploration company is formed to deal with part of the offshore drilling for oil that has been under the auspices of Salén Energy. Both Argonaut and Monitor are floated on the stock market. Salén & Wicander also finds new owners.
Mats Ruhne also has a similar plan in his desk drawer for his part of the group and like the Phoenix rises up from the ashes to become the world’s biggest, most modern and technically most advanced refrigerated shipping company that overnight formed Cool Carriers, that later is sold to Bilspedition in 1987.
In order to provide all the tankers that have stood still after the bankruptcy with loads until they are sold, Clarence Dybeck starts the freight company Stockholm Chartering. The company is financed by Sven Hampus Salén with one and a half million SEK. Argonaut AB puts in the same amount as does Monitor. Svenska Varv that sits on a large number of tankers with no steering and the state owned shipping company Zenit, that takes over Götaverken’s unsold ships are also a part of the fleet that is operated by Clarence Dybeck and his team.
The brothers split – Christer’s business deals
In 1985 Sven Hampus buys out Christer from their mutually owned company Salénia. Christer, in turn, buys out Salénia’s English subsidiary Exxtor which is part of the old ferry company TOR Line not sold to DFDS. This becomes Christer’s new base. Hereafter, Christer concentrates on the flying industry and starts, amongst others, the Crown Arcot company for the purchase and sales of aeroplanes. The company specialises in purchasing outgoing plane models and then leasing them back to the old owners until the airline replaces the whole of its fleet. Thereafter they start a store of spare parts with companies Avtec, AirXport and Venada with offices in Basel, Brussels and Las Vegas where they sell aeroplane spares to the big fleets of semi-old models that are still flying. Christer is also a participant in two charter plane companies in England and a regular airline with traffic to the Channels Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The major part of the air operations, which is sometimes very good business, he manages to sell before the terrorist attack against the USA in 2001.
Back to the cruise business
In 1989 Christer Salén returns to the cruise industry through the purchase of the expeditionary ship ”Caledonian Star”. The year after a new ship is ordered, “Frontier Spirit”, from a Japanese shipyard and is delivered in the autumn of 1990, at almost the same time as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invades Kuwait. Soon thereafter Christer sells his share in the vessel to his two partners.
With the advent of the Kuwait war, Americans stop travelling and as “Caledonian Star” principally sold cruises on the American market, a new use for the vessel must be found. In 1991 therefore, the travel agency Noble Caledonia is started in order to capture the British market of cruise travellers. Christer’s daughter Katarina Salén works for Noble Caledonia as an expedition guide from the very start. In 1999, together with her husband, Per-Magnus Sander, she starts their own travel agency Polar Quest. Per-Magnus has a background as a polar guide and marine rights lawyer. They start to sell cruises on the Swedish market.
The brothers split – Sven Hampus business deals
As early as 1984 Sven Hampus’ business revolves around financing and trading with shares in the aftermath of the bankruptcy. He wants to be able to support the old colleagues who continued to work within the sphere’s former areas of interest, but does not want to go in as a controlling shareholder.
At the beginning of the 1980s Salénia has bought into Bilspedition AB, that rapidly develops during the 80s, amongst other things, with the acquisition of line shippers Transatlantic. Salénia participates as an active owner until a structural transformation of the transport industry and sell its holdings in Bilspedition, at a good profit, in the summer of 1991.
Salénia is also engaged in Stockholm Chartering, Cool Carriers and the revived dry cargo shipping company Sven Salén AB. With Sven Salén AB as the starting point and the acquisition of Scandocean, Salénia carries out a complex structural business deal with the stock exchange quoted Uddevalla Shipping. For Sven Salén AB that has leadership resources and ideas, whilst Uddevalla Shipping has an interesting fleet and strong balance sheet, but no management, the deal is ideal. The company is renamed Frontline and is later sold to the large Norwegian ship owner John Fredriksen
Breaking into the airline market
As early as 1987 Sven Hampus Salén takes a major step into the air industry with the purchase of a small airline in Gothenburg, that is renamed Salair. Operations have a slow start in the recession of 1990-1992, in hard competition with SAS and after merging with Avia in 1992 the domestic airline Skyways is formed. With smaller planes and fewer employees it succeeds in making profits where SAS failed. In 1995 Skyways is the largest domestic air carrier in Sweden, in terms of number of destinations. In 1997 a collaborative agreement is signed with SAS and in 1998 SAS purchase 25 per cent of Skyways. Expansion continues up until 2001, that proves to be a difficult year for the whole of the airline industry.
The next pair of brothers takes over
Already in the 1980s Sven Hampus’ sons Staffan and Erik start dealing in shares within a portfolio of two million SEK that they have inherited from their paternal grandmother. Business is successful which gives the brothers a high level of liquidity at the beginning of the 1990s and they collect their investments in their own company Westindia. At the same time the brothers prove their wings in other operations outside the Salén sphere. Staffan Salén is, amongst other things, editor in chief for Finanstidningen and vice Managing Director for Föreningssparbank, whilst Erik Salén, amongst others, works for the Stillström family’s investment company Traction.
In 2003 Staffan Salén starts at Salénia, at the same time that Sven Hampus steps back and phases out his involvement. At the time Erik Salén has already been in place for the last two years. As a result of this generation change the practical differences between owner companies Salénia and Westindia are erased and all of the company’s holdings are run, in common, by the brothers, Staffan and Erik.
Start owning sheet metal anyway
A few years after the aeroplane attacks against the World Trade Center the prices of aeroplanes has fallen so much that Erik and Staffan Salén go against the family’s current strategy “not to own sheet metal”. In 2005 they invest in the first three Fokker planes that will be put to work by renting them out to Skyways. The fleet of aeroplanes in the Air transport company Largus Aviation grows rapidly and the planes are rented out to both Skyways and to the Salén-owned air-freight company Amapola who fly for Posten AB. But soon they find other customers abroad, such as Air Baltic, that leases five planes on long-term contracts. Despite the fact that airlines are under pressure all over the world, they succeed in achieving good profitability renting out the used planes, in part by converting the oldest planes to air freight planes.
“The aeroplanes were 10 years old when we bought them, but even so, are worth more today”, says Thomas Nordström who is Head of Finances at Salénia.
The selling of Skyways
The low-price companies entry onto the airline market during the beginning of the 2000s entails losses for 2004 and 2005 of several billion SEK for the larger airlines Swedish domestic flights and this leads to a severe slimming down of Skyways in 2005. In 2008 SAS sells its holdings and in 2009 sells the subsidiary that runs the operative business so that Skyways can completely focus on ticket sales, marketing and the brand. In December 2010 the remaining operations is sold to the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomojskyj who wants to get at the operative licence in order to fly Embraer in the EU, where he plans to start a new North-European airline with, amongst others, Danish Cimber Sterling.
Involved right from the start
Around the start of the new millennium Salénia invest in a portfolio of IT companies, which includes the newly started consultancy brokerage eWork. The company supplies larger companies with specialised IT competence via a database with independent IT consultants and it grows rapidly. From an almost non-existent turnover in 2000 the company grows to a turnover of 650 million SEK by 2006 and from there to 4.7 billion by 2014. In February 2008 eWork is floated on the stock market and in September 2010 Staffan Salén takes over as Chairman of the board for eWork, after Sven Hagströmer.
Alongside eWork both Staffan and Erik Salén are involved in starting two other operations that will grow strongly.
Just after the start of the new millennium they invest in the property company that Staffan Saléns former fellow student, David Mindus, is in the process of starting up. The company focuses on the market for warehousing and industrial premises and grows rapidly. With an inverse acquisition of the IT company Effnet, the operation is floated on the stock market under the name of Sagax. For Salénia’s part the original investment of a few million SEK develops into a 10 per cent ownership of a property group that today has a rental revenue of over a billion SEK.
In 2004 a team of administrators leave the established finance group Catella, in order to start their own administrative company. Staffan Salén helps with both financing and office space for the newly started Strand Capital Administration, where Salénia also owns 30 per cent. With an independent and successful administration the company grows rapidly. In 2015 the company has an administered capital of more than 3 billion SEK.
After the successful share administration in the 1980s, brothers Erik and Staffan Salén purchase the conglomerate Largus from Salénia in 1993. Largus was originally founded as an offshoot of the Salén sphere’s oil prospecting, but now contains various different trading activities amongst which is Landauer. The brothers’ work with Largus includes the selling off of a shipping agent in Singapore and to further develop trading operations, that after a partial sale to Taiwanese Tait, maintains the agency for Heineken in China, which means that the holding can be sold at a good profit in 2003.
For Landauer, that deals with seafood such as prawns/shrimps, octopus, etc., natural fibres and animal bi-products, they also see the possibility of expanding into industrial honey. With their own factory in Cambridge that prepares and packs the honey and supplies it in everything from 25 kilo drums to complete tanker trucks they manage to grow to be England’s largest producer of industrial honey before selling the honey operations, at a good profit, in 2007.
The other major foreign operation is Higman Marine, that after the acquisition of competitor Maryland Marine at the end of the 1990s, when the Salén brothers help with the financing, grows to be the third largest actor on the push-barge market in the USA, with a fleet of 240 vessels.
With a focus on non-quoted companies
In 2002 Christer Salén’s son Patrik moves back home from the USA and together with siblings Katarina, Oscar and Jonny take over the responsibility for a somewhat haphazardly grown portfolio of non-quoted companies built up by Christer Salén. The process of refining and liquidating the contents of the portfolio takes several year. When an external offer is made for travel agency Noble Caledonia in 2006, that Christer helped to found after the Kuwait crisis, Katarina Salén decides to buy the company herself. This leaves Katarina with her own travel agency and Patrik with the foundation for a continued involvement with un-quoted companies, initially through the private equity network MVI, that Christer Salén helped found and that makes investments into companies with a turnover of between 100-200 million and Credelity that makes investments into somewhat larger companies with a turnover of between 200-500 million SEK. Patrik’s own direct investments have successively increased in priority, such as Hyper Island, Precio and GARPCO, with long-term thinking and entrepreneurship in focus.
To 300 different destinations all over the world
When Katarina Salén takes over Noble Caledonia in 2006 the company has sold “Caledonian Star” and operates only with rented ships. At the same time Katarina’s and Per-Magnus Sander’s other polar cruising operations PolarQuest are growing strongly. When the couple sell PolarQuest in 2009 it has grown from an original turnover of 1.8 million SEK to a turnover of 80 million SEK.
Instead, the couple choose to focus their efforts on the London-based travel agency Noble Caledonia, where they increase their engagement in 2010 by purchasing the cruise ship “Island Sky”, at the same time that they start Salén Ship Management to look after the operations of the ship. The following year they buy the sister ship “Caledonian Sky”. In order to finance the purchase of the ships and at the same time, gain access to the Australian market, the couple who own the majority of Noble Caledonia, decide to sell a minority share to the Australian travel agency APT. A few years later they purchase the third sister ship “Hebridean Sky”. Today the operations have doubled their turnover compared to 2006, to more than £70 million and arrange cruises with their own or rented ships to 300 different destinations all over the world.
New engagements with one foot still in shipping
In 1996 Jonny Salén, the third of Christer Salén’s children, leaves Sweden in order to read for a Master of Finance degree at the London Business School. After various other engagements in South-East Asia, in 2008, Jonny becomes the owner of China Hong Kong International Communications (CHKIC) and the underlying Chinese company MinTel, a Hong Kong based telecommunications company with its principal operations on mainland China. At the same time Jonny continues to work with the development of several other companies in South-East Asia.
Just before the finance crisis breaks out in 2008, Oscar Salén, the youngest of Christer’s children, also moves to London to study. After four years education in international finance, he moves back to Sweden to build up his own portfolio of investments, principally within finance companies, which includes the loan comparison company Advisa. Together with his sister Katarina, Oscar is also engaged in Argonaut, a start-up company within bulk shipping with its seat in Gothenburg.
In October 2015 our family celebrates that it is exactly 100 years since Sven Salén bought his first ship, barge Robur at the quay in Gothenburg. This was the start of what would become a long career in business and shipping. The anniversary was celebrated with workshops about our family business and entrepreneurship at the Modern Museum and dinner at the Nordic Museum.
Anniversary guests can find more material on this link.