The world's youngest billionaire's tobacco fortune was partly built on child labour

Alexandra Andresen was named as the youngest billionaire in the world this month with a

$1.2 billion (£862 million) fortune after she was required to declare her finances to Norway’s taxman when she hit adulthood.
Her fortune comes from her father Johan Andresen who transferred 42% of the stock in Ferd, the family’s centuries-old private-investment company, to her in 2007. Her sister Katharina, who at 20 is the second-youngest billionaire in the world, is also worth $1.2 billion after also securing a 42% stake in the company from her father.

But following the announcement the teenager is a billionaire — some parts of the media have been eager to unearth some of the origins of where her wealth comes from.

And on Wednesday MailOnline highlighted from publicly available records how a bulk of the fortune comes from Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik corporation, owned by Ferd up until 2005, which admitted that “20-30% of its tobacco came from plantations in the African countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe which used workers under the age of 10.”

It should be noted that Ferd now mainly runs hedge funds and is an active investor in the Nordic stock exchange and a raft of private equity investments and is no longer involved with Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik, which it sold to Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni for nearly $500 million.

In 2001 Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik admitted that 20% to 30% of its raw material from tobacco plantations came from Malawi and Zimbabwe. That year, the UN published a report about how child labour was widespread in those two countries.

At the time, Tiedemanns spokesman Jan Robert Kvam was quoted as saying:

Let’s get this straight — in principle we oppose child labour. But what can we do? Yes, we know children work on tobacco farms. We distance ourselves from child labour and try to operate a form of quality control with our suppliers. We are aware the problem exists in some markets.

At the time, Norway’s anti-tobacco organisation, NAT, called for a consumer boycott of Tiedemanns products.

Business Insider contacted Ferd for comment but has yet to hear back at the time of publishing this article. We will update this article if we hear back.

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