O.N. Sunde is an industrial investment company with a leading position in several industries. The Group employs more than 4 000 people.
O.N. Sunde was founded in 1988 by Olav Nils Sunde in connection with a generational handover and the consequent demerger of Brødr. Sunde AS, Ålesund. After a modest start, the company has over the years grown to become one of Norway’s largest privately held family businesses. Up until 1993 the headquarters of the company were located in Ålesund, Mr. Sunde’s home town.
At the outset, in 1988, the company’s main investment consisted of a 70 % ownership interest in Sunpor Kunstoff GmbH, Austria, a company founded by Mr. Sunde and the Austrian Salzer Group, and based on the Sunde EPS technology developed in Ålesund. In 1988 the company employed just 28 people: 26 at the Sunpor plant and two in Norway (Mr. Sunde and his secretary). In 1989 O.N. Sunde acquired Salzer’s 30 % shareholding in Sunpor and has since been the sole shareholder. Sunpor is producing Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) raw materials used for the conversion into building insulation and packaging products. The initial capacity of the plant was 10 000 tonnes a year. Sunpor has over the years become a success story and is now the third largest EPS producer in Europe, operating two production plants in St. Pölten, Austria with a combined capacity of 260 000 tonnes a year.
Sunpor has been the cornerstone of O.N. Sunde’s business. It was the successful operation and profitability of Sunpor that initially made it possible to diversify investments into other areas of business. We began our ship-owning business by acquiring our first two reefer vessels in 1992 and our first bulk carrier in 1993. Over the years we have owned more than 25 ships. Today our fleet comprises five modern cruise-ferries and day-ferries owned and operated by our subsidiary Color Line.
The Cruise and Ferry Business
In 1994–1995, we entered the international Cruise and Ferry business by acquiring a majority shareholding in Larvik Line (Norway–Denmark) and 100 % of Scandi Line (Norway–Sweden). In 1996 we delisted Larvik Line from the Oslo Stock Exchange by acquiring 100 % of the shares. In the same year we merged Larvik Line with Color Line, which at the time was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. With this merger, we became the majority shareholder of Color Line. In 1998 Scandi Line and Color Line merged. Color Line was delisted in 1999, and we have been the sole owner since then. Even though Color Line was hard hit during the Covid pandemic, the company has overall been the main contributor to our success for many years.
Fashion – Design and Retail
In the spring 2003, we were offered a block of shares in Voice, a listed company. We had no prior experience of or expertise in the fashion industry, but having observed that some of the most successful companies in the world were invested in the fashion business, we also decided to get involved. Later that same year we delisted the company and since then have been the sole owner. Voice owns and operates 200 fashion stores throughout Norway in the chains Match, VIC and Boys of Europe. Voice has proved to be a highly successful venture.
Sporting Goods – Retail
Our successful entrance into the retail fashion business inspired us to expand our involvement in retail to include sporting goods. Our eyes fell on Gresvig – the biggest sporting goods retailer in Norway, operator of the G Sport and Intersport concept chains. At the time the combined market share in Norway of these two chains was upwards of 40 %. Gresvig was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. We delisted Gresvig in 2006, becoming the sole owner.
For a variety of reasons, the investment in Gresvig proved to be fraught with difficulties. The arrival of XXL, a very aggressive newcomer, led to massive overcapacity in the market. This was in part also the result of our own expansion strategy, implemented to maintain our market share. There were also other issues – quite frankly we did not do a good enough job. After many years of struggle and huge financial losses – we had to throw in the towel. Gresvig filed for bankruptcy in 2019.
The winding up of Gresvig allowed us to restructure our sporting goods business in Norway. Consequently, a new joint venture between Gjelsten Holding (47 %) and O.N. Sunde (47 %) was formed in 2019 under the name Sport Holding. Sport Holding is Norway’s leading sporting goods specialist with over 375 franchise and own stores operating under the concepts – Sport 1, Intersport, Anton Sport, Milslukern, Löplabbet, Skandinavisk Høyfjellsutstyr, Sports Net and sportwear company Bergans, which we acquired in 2021. Sport Holding reported exceptionally good results during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current market situation characterized by both higher inflation and higher interest rates is proving to be more challenging. The process of restructuring and streamlining Sport Holding continues. For example, the gathering of all concepts in a single new central warehouse located at Gardermoen will take place later this year. We are reasonably optimistic about Sport Holding’s future development.
O.N. Sunde has reported very satisfactory results since the restructuring of the sporting goods business and following the recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. O.N. Sunde posted record results in 2022. Our expectation is that 2023 will also be a good year. This situation will allow us to look for growth opportunities within our existing lines of business as well as in new areas of businesses.
Head Office and Executive Functions
O.N. Sunde employs a team of 10 people at its head office at Aker Brygge in Oslo. The team is responsible for key corporate functions, as well as the Group’s financial management, including liquidity, debt and risk management. Active ownership is exercised through the various boards of directors and through close cooperation with the management of the operating entities.
The People at Aker Brygge
Olav Nils Sunde, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board.
Alexander Sunde, CEO – O.N. Sunde AS since 2015. He has worked for the company since 2008. Alexander holds an MBA from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) with specializations in financial analysis (CEFA) and portfolio management (APF).
Bjørn Paulsen, Group CFO since 1999. Bjørn holds a M.Sc. BA from BI Norwegian Business School / University of Oregon.
Pål H. Rasmussen, CEO – Sunpor AS since 2021. He has worked in various top management positions in the Group since 1999. Pål holds a Diplomkaufmann Degree (M.Sc. BA) from the University of Augsburg, Germany.
Christian Arndt, Finance Director – Color Group AS since 2013. He has worked for the company since 1999. Christian holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from University of Missouri / BI Norwegian Business School
Andreas Ringen, Portfolio Manager – O.N. Sunde AS since 2014. Andreas holds a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Oslo with specialization in financial markets. He is also a chartered portfolio manager (APF) from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
Jens-Hermann Jenssen, Finance Director – O.N. Sunde AS since 2018. Jens-Hermann holds a Master of Science in Industrial Economics and Technology Management from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Olav Sæter, Accounting Director – O.N. Sunde since 2013. Olav holds an MBA from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). He is also a State Authorized Public Accountant.
Christina Narum, Accounting Officer since 2015. Christina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Auditing from BI Norwegian Business School.
Marina Helen Lindmark, Office Manager since 2017.