Here’s How It Feels to Be Rich, Lose All The Money, and Become Iceland’s Only Billionaire Again?
How does it feel to lose a $100 bill? It sucks and you’ll scramble to find it in your pockets, bags, and even in the closet in the hopes of seeing that note. So imagine losing billions in a blink of an eye – it is enough to make one go crazy. However, for Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, the sole billionaire in Iceland, becoming insane is not going to make his riches go back. There’s also no space for sulking and negativity, despite being strapped for cash.
The man, simply known in the UK as Thor, had fallen and has risen. On March 19, 1967, he was born to an already established family in Iceland – Thor Jensen, his great-grandpa, was instrumental in reinstating capitalism to the country, while his father headed one of the biggest shipping companies in the homeland called Hafskip and later was arrested for different charges.
After finishing school at New York University and the University of California San Diego, he went to Russia in the ‘90s to start soft drinks and beer business, which turned into a success. Heineken bought the company in 2002, which led Thor back in Iceland. Together with his dad, they purchased a 46-percent stake in Landsbanki after borrowing money from another bank.
The bad habits had accumulated – Thor had 40 limited liability companies (LLCs) and sought money more than his equity. After a couple of eyebrow-raising moves, including the leveraged buyout of the Actavis, a medicine company, the financial crisis happened. Deutsche Bank, which brought $5.4 billion for the debt of the company, then demanded the man to pay up, which prompted him to get $230 from his bank.
In 2008, Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, asked Thor to come home after witnessing the financial problem sweeping the globe. Landsbanki, the billionaire’s bank was in trouble and was looming shutdown. Within a week, the country was bankrupt and those who feel the brunt were the citizens who were forced to turn to their savings to survive.
People pointed their finger at Thor, who they said caused the financial disaster. In that short period of time, he became the most hated man in his country. From $3.5 billion, his net worth immediately went in the negative. The lenders were furious at him for his failed promises.
Rising from The Ashes
Fast forward to 2015, Thor came back from the rubbles, becoming a billionaire once more thanks to Actavis, which had a lot of challenges on its own. Its CEO sued the owner and vice versa and drugs had to be recalled. On top of that, the man had shouldered a $350-million debt from his father. By 2010, a deal was made between him and his creditors, stating that he wouldn’t borrow money unless he paid $1 billion.
That also meant selling some of his priciest possessions, including his megayacht, private jet, and a Ferrari. In 2012, Watson bought Actavis for a whopping $6 billion — $5.4 billion was given to the Deutsche Bank, while lenders got installment for $230 million. He took shares (4.3 million) in the drug company that’s worth $700 million, which he used to pay his debt. Now, he has an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion.
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