Brain Food: How he made his pile - Thor Bjorgolfsson


Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Who is he? Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, 38, is Iceland's first billionaire. He started out selling beer in Russia and now runs an investment empire from Park Lane. He's worth £3 billion.

How did he make his millions? Surprisingly quickly. Bjorgolfsson's Russian brewery was sold to Heineken for £190 million in 2002. Investments in pharmaceutical companies allowed him to buy 45% of Iceland's oldest bank, Landsbanki, later that year. He now lords it over telecoms and financial investments and chairs the enormous drugs company Actavis.

The secret of his success? Bjorgolfsson was driven by the humiliation of his father's fraud arrest in 1986 and spent his early career bent on restoring family pride. But great business acumen is in his genes - his father was a shipping executive-turned-banker. Bjorgolfsson has been audacious and astute, with investments ranging from Russian alcopops to Cable & Wireless.


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