Morten Borge (35) is to take over as the new CEO of Ferd when John Giverholt retires on 1 August of this year. Morten Borge is currently Investment Director of Ferd Capital.
Morten Borge completed a master’s degree in business administration and qualified as a certified public accountant at the BI Norwegian Business School. Before joining Ferd in 2008, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and he has also been CFO at Interwell, one of Ferd’s portfolio companies. Morten Borge is currently a member of the boards of Aibel, Interwell and Servi on behalf of Ferd. He is also a member of the board of Petroleum Geo Services.
“Proud of the team at Ferd”
“I am proud of the team at Ferd, and of having had a number of highly qualified internal candidates to choose from to take over from John Giverholt as CEO. This is the second time in a row that Ferd’s new CEO – other than from the family – has been recruited internally, and it is the result of deliberate planning and developing talent over a long period”, comments Johan H. Andresen, owner and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ferd.
Johan H. Andresen emphasises that there are many advantages to recruiting the CEO internally for family-owned companies such as Ferd; internal candidates know Ferd’s owners, its business and the organisation, while the company’s owners also know internal candidates well. This means that Ferd’s owners can be sure that candidates’ values match Ferd’s. The level of risk involved is therefore much lower than with recruiting externally.
“Ferd has been very good at adapting its organisation and strategies to the company’s growth and changes in the opportunities in the market. We therefore wanted to appoint a new CEO who would continue to develop Ferd in line with our vision and values, rather than someone who would make radical changes”, explains Johan H. Andresen. He also emphasises that all the internal candidates in the appointment process satisfied these requirements.
The qualities needed for success
Johan H. Andresen explains that Ferd needs to grow in order to be able to develop its organisation and constantly pursue the company’s vision. “This will be demanding in the coming years and it will, in all probability, be essential for us to develop closer relationships with organisations we can partner with. The Board feels that Morten Borge very much has the qualities needed to do this successfully”.
Johan H. Andresen highlights in this connection what he describes as Morten’s “special capabilities”, which he defines as “his ability to build relationships both internally and externally, to identify and realise commercial opportunities, and to inspire the entirety of Ferd’s organisation”.
“Morten has good relationships with our portfolio companies’ management teams, board members and elected representatives. This human dimension is absolutely critical to operationalising Ferd’s values. Growth is not only a numbers game; it is just as much about the number of companies we are involved with and have an ownership stake in, and we have seen a very significant increase in this regard over the past 10-12 years. There will definitely be a lot to do in this area going forward. Morten’s potential is therefore much more important than what he has achieved so far”, comments Johan H. Andresen.
Johan H. Andresen also emphasises that Morten Borge comes from the part of Ferd that is active in industry, and that this means he will also help strengthen the company’s profile in industry and its strong, dynamic approach to ownership. According to Johan H. Andresen, this will continue to be a question of having skilled people on board, giving Ferd’s employees the freedom to do their job, and being good at recruitment and creating good ideas.
“Retiring with flying colours”
Johan H. Andresen is also grateful to John Giverholt for his many years of work as both CFO and CEO.
“In both these roles John has been a rock in Ferd’s industrial development. He has been a really important leader and advisor in the development of all aspects of our professional approach to ownership, and has played an important role in creating the confidence that was needed for us to be able to attract the right people to serve on the boards and executive management teams of our portfolio companies”, explains Johan H. Andresen.
“John’s professionalism gives people confidence. Some important key words connected with this are reliable, predictable in terms of how we act as owners and accountable. He has been very skilled at recruiting other skilled managers and employees, and this has allowed us to build the strong team we have today”, adds Johan H. Andresen.
“Over the years John and I have had a good and open dialogue through which we have both grown as individuals, particularly me, and we have learnt a lot from each other. He really is retiring with flying colours”.
John Giverholt will not, however, be leaving Ferd entirely when he retires on 1 August, as Johan H. Andresen explains that he will then join Ferd’s Advisory Board, which will continue to be important to the company’s strategy development. He will also continue to be the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Elopak. “I am really pleased that John has agreed to these appointments and so to continuing to be part of the Ferd team”, comments Johan H. Andresen.
John Giverholt: “Internal recruitment a sign of quality”
Retiring CEO John Giverholt also emphasises that it is a sign of strength that Ferd has once again been able to recruit a CEO from within its own ranks. It is, in his view, a sign of quality that Ferd is able to produce its own leaders.
“When I was appointed as CEO as a 60-year-old, it was really a decision taken in special circumstances. Now that a 35-year old has been appointed to my position, Ferd is very much in a different position. It is really exciting”, comments John Giverholt. He adds: “I have enjoyed many exciting years at Ferd. While I have been here we have achieved significant capital growth and made good financial progress. We have also built an organisation that certainly bears comparison with equivalent companies, including internationally, in terms of its professionalism, expertise and way of working”.
“I value greatly the confidence that Johan has shown in me. He has always given the organisation and its employees and management a wide mandate and set stable and predictable parameters for us to operate within. This has created a sense of assuredness that is absolutely crucial for an investment company such as ours to succeed”, explains John Giverholt.
Even if Ferd has performed well in recent years, everything has not always gone so well. “Johan has been very supportive when the markets have gone against us. He knows that what we do is risky, and he has always been supportive, even when things have gone against us – particularly in connection with the financial crisis in 2008. Working with him has been truly inspiring”, comments John Giverholt.
Ferd Social Entrepreneurs has become a very important part of the company in recent years. “Johan took the initiative and put social entrepreneurship on the map in Norway. What Ferd Social Entrepreneurs has achieved in the course of a few years is absolutely unique. The whole range of Ferd’s expertise has been deployed for the benefit of Ferd’s social entrepreneurs, and it is pleasing to see how this has helped boost the rest of Ferd as well”, explains John Giverholt.
“Ferd has never been stronger than it is now. The company is not going to be the same five or ten years from now. I am very sure, however, that Ferd will develop very strongly under Morten Borge’s leadership”, comments John Giverholt, who is looking forward to being on Ferd’s Advisory Board.
Morten Borge: “An enormous opportunity and a great vote of confidence”
“This is an enormous opportunity and a great vote of confidence from Ferd’s owners and Board, and I value it greatly. I have now been at Ferd for nearly nine years. During this time I have had the privilege of seeing different parts of the company close up and of working with many exciting companies and in lots of interesting situations. I am looking forward to helping further develop Ferd from today’s strong starting position, and am very grateful for the confidence that Ferd’s Board of Directors and Johan and his family have shown in me”, comments Morten Borge. He adds: “Working at Ferd with both Johan and John as CEO has been a great privilege and a wonderful learning experience. I am also really pleased that John is not planning to retire entirely, but will continue to be involved, not least by being on the Advisory Board”.
“It is important for us to build further on the solid foundation created under John’s leadership. At the same time, the world around us is changing at an ever-increasing rate. It is therefore right that we as an ownership company change at the same pace as the markets and the opportunities that arise. This is why we do not draw up 10-year strategy plans at Ferd. Instead, we take pleasure in new initiatives and developing as things progress, while at the same time emphasising the ability to take a long-term approach that being a family-owned company gives us”, explains Morten Borge.
“Teamwork is one of Ferd’s most important values. We have many highly skilled people that it will be inspiring to have the opportunity to lead. Ferd’s success is the result of close teamwork between all its employees, including teamwork across the company’s various business areas. This is an important formula for success that it is crucial we take care of and develop further”, concludes Morten Borge.