Old Mutual’s Hostile Takeover of Skandia
Chapter 9: New Kinds of Shareholders Enter the Scene
CHRISTER GARDELL LOOKS FOR ALLIES Activist investor Christer Gardell’s profile was low when he entered the financial scene in Sweden. He did not say much when interviewed by the media.1 His reply to most questions was: ‘My ambition is to earn money.’ He would follow up by adding that it was the ‘fiduciary duty of boards of directors and management to work for the best of the shareholders’. It took a few deals until the wider Swedish business community understood the meaning of that latter wording in the context of financial capitalism, with its global mixture of international hedge funds, investment bankers, shareholder activists and media actors. Gardell and his twin brother Rickard were born in 1960 and grew up in working-class quarters at Finntorp, 10 km from Stockholm. The twin brothers took the same path, both graduating from the Stockholm School of Economics with top grades and each awarded scholarships to other renowned business schools. They turned to management consultancy: Rickard was at Bain2 in London and later Australia, where he founded Australia’s largest private equity firm, Pacific Equity Partners; Christer founded Cevian a few years later. Christer Gardell was employed at McKinsey in 1984, where it did not take long for him to rise to a star position. In 1995, he became a senior partner at Nordic Capital, one of the first Swedish private equity firms, but he stayed less than a year having been offered the job of turning around Custos,3 a conservative and rather inactive...
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