The Exchange Commissioners

The administrative head of Oslo Børs was called the Exchange Commissioner until the title of ‘President and CEO’ was introduced in 1988.

The first Exchange Commissioners were appointed by the King, but a royal decree of 24 December 1868 changed this arrangement, and they were thereafter appointed by the government and were issued with instructions by the Ministry of Trade.

The Exchange Commissioners were tasked primarily with overseeing activities at the exchange to ensure that they were in compliance with the authorities’ instructions.

Herman Wang

1819 - 1822

Herman Wang, a merchant, was appointed Exchange Commissioner by King Karl Johan on 30 January 1819. The annual salary he received for this was 200 speciedaler, which is the equivalent of about NOK 40,000 today. This purchasing-power-based comparison is not particularly revealing, however, about what this amount meant at the time. A better understanding is afforded by a salary-based comparison: for what was a part-time position, Wang was paid an amount that was equivalent to a very good salary for a craftsman.

Lauritz Nicolai Kraft

1822 - 1834

Lauritz Nicolai Kraft, also a merchant, was born in 1782 and died in 1834. He was the third representative for Christiania in the Norwegian Parliament in the 1827-1829 period and was a state-authorised public accountant. It was during his tenure that the initiative was taken to secure financing for the exchange building and its subsequent construction (1827-1829).

Photo: Oslo Museum

Jacob Smith

1835–1857
Photo: Oslo Museum

Jacob Smith, another merchant, served as Exchange Commissioner for a long time, but there was little change at Christiania Børs during his tenure. It remained an exchange purely for foreign currencies and bills of exchange, as well as a consultative body for the city and the state, like other Norwegian exchanges at this time.

Smith was honourably discharged with effect from 1 January 1857, but he seems to have been the acting Commissioner until his successor was appointed.

Adolph Ingemann

1857–1866

Adolph Ingemann, an average adjustor and translator, was appointed Commissioner on 11 April 1857 on an annual salary of 350 speciedaler. Ingemann fell ill and was granted leave from his position on 1 April 1866, and was honourably discharged on 18 January 1869.

During Ingemann’s time as Exchange Commissioner, Christiania Børs became the central meeting place for merchants’ collective efforts to navigate the liquidity and trust crisis that was spreading throughout Northern Europe in the wake of the financial collapse in Hamburg in late autumn of 1857.

Photo: Oslobilder

Axel Winge

1868–1893
Photo: Oslobilder

Axel Winge was a Norwegian ship owner, an average adjuster, a consul and a politician. He became acting Exchange Commissioner on 1 January 1868, and was finally officially appointed to the role on 13 July 1869.

It was during Winge’s tenure that Christiania Exchange initially began to formalise what would gradually become its primary activity, namely providing a venue for listing and trading in securities, as in 1881 a Securities Exchange that provided prices once a month was set up. In the initial years, listing primarily involved shares in banks and public debt securities.

Henrik Theodor Hammond

1894–1904

During Hammond’s time, the capital suffered what is known as the Christiania boom – a wave of wild speculation on property and start-up companies that culminated in the so-called Christiania crash of 1899. Several start-up speculator banks came to grief and the years that followed were hard for many. Christiania Børs itself watched the events unfold from the side-lines, as the large speculative bets of the period were not agreed within its walls but in the city’s many coffee shops.

Under Hammond’s management, the Commodities Exchange was set up, which provided price listings for numerous important import and export commodities.

Photo: Oslobilder

Reidar Due

1904–1937
Photo: Oslobilder

Reidar Due was the Exchange Commissioner who was fortunate to have served for the longest period. The establishment of the Securities Exchange in 1881 and the Commodities Exchange in 1901 turned Christiania Børs into an exchange where trading in securities, commodities, bills of exchange and currencies all took place under one roof, and as its head Due had the idea that a lively exchange could be a guiding star in the same way as in large centres of commerce abroad.

During the boom between 1915 and 1918, Christiania Børs was a very busy place, with new price and volume records being continuously set. When speaking of the period in 1931, Due commented, “We were deeply pleased when the boom of the war years was over, as it was a really terrible time; we have now little by little made our way down from the stormy heights to more pleasant valleys, and are now enjoying calmer and more normal conditions that are better suited to both our exchange and society”. 

Photo: Oslobilder

Asbjørn Mjerskaug

1937–1963
Photo: Oslobilder

Asbjørn Mjerskaug was Exchange Secretary from 1919 to 1936 before being appointed Exchange Commissioner the following year. This marked the beginning of Oslo Børs’ tradition of recruiting its leaders from its own ranks, which continued until 2000.

Mjerskaug was Exchange Commissioner during what was a difficult period for Oslo Børs. During the war years, he played an important role in the work that was done to save the exchange building from the occupying forces and to undermine attempts to bring the organisation under Nazi control. After the war, the price controls introduced by the authorities would weaken one of the exchange’s traditional pillars, the provision of prices for commodities.

Photo: NTB scanpix

Hans Christian Arnessen

1963–1977
Photo: NTB scanpix

Hans Christian Arnessen first joined Oslo Børs in 1937 and was 57 when he moved from the position of Exchange Secretary to Exchange Commissioner.

Arnessen was shaped by the interwar period, but the Oslo Børs at which he worked as an official and then as head fell under the shadow of the state’s regulation of the credit market and the relative lack of interest in Norway’s equity capital market. He was also one of the first to really set about demystifying the stock market, which he sought to do in newspaper articles and public speeches. His successor, Erik Jarve, continued with this endeavour.

Photo: NTB scanpix

Erik Jarve

1977–1994
Photo: NTB scanpix

Erik Jarve began his career at Oslo Børs as a 23-year-old Exchange Secretary in 1969. He became Exchange Commissioner in 1977 and President and CEO in 1988 when this title was adopted.

Under Jarve’s leadership, Oslo Børs became a modern securities exchange. Trading grew to levels that in real terms had not been seen for 60 years, the building was remodelled and electronic trading was introduced in 1988. Jarve had history on his side, but he also managed to expand the freedom of manoeuvre Oslo Børs had as an institution. He was convinced that Oslo Børs could be a socially useful institution and a source of financing for business and industry. 

Photo: Oslo Børs

Kjell Frønsdal

1995–1999
Photo: Oslo Børs

Kjell Frønsdal was assistant President and CEO before being made President and CEO, and he had been Jarve’s deputy for a number of years before taking on the top job.

On Frønsdal’s watch, securities trading became decentralised, brokers moved out of the exchange, and important initiatives were taken to strengthen market surveillance and to create the basis for greater trust in Oslo Børs among market participants. Frønsdal subsequently became a judge at Gulating Court of Appeal in 2000.

Photo: Oslo Børs

Sven Arild Andersen

2000–2005
Photo: Oslo Børs

Sven Arild Andersen had worked at Norsk Hydro since 1974 and held a range of board positions both in Norway and abroad, including a number at stock exchange listed companies, when he took over as President and CEO in 2000.

On his watch, Oslo Børs was privatised, and Nordic collaboration through the Norex alliance was at its most intense. He was characterised by his industry-focused thinking, his belief in the value of economies of scale, and the desire to set up a healthy, bottom-line-oriented commercial culture. He retired in 2005.

Photo: Håvard Storvestre / Semway

Bente A. Landsnes

2006–2019
Photo: Håvard Storvestre / Semway

Bente Landsnes became President and CEO of Oslo Børs on 1 January 2006, and is the first woman to lead Oslo Børs since its foundation in 1819.

Oslo Børs had been enthusiastic about exploiting the synergies that could be achieved in the Norwegian securities market by merging with Verdipapirsentralen (VPS) for many years before this became a reality in 2007. Oslo Børs and VPS are now wholly owned subsidiary companies of Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA, where Bente Landsnes served as the Group CEO. In the autumn of 2018 Landsnes announced that she would retire in the year of Oslo Børs’ bicentenary.

Håvard S. Abrahamsen

2019-

Håvard S. Abrahamsen was a partner at PwC when he joined as the new President and CEO of Oslo Børs and Oslo Børs VPS Holding in April 2019.