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About Olav Thon

The founder of the Olav Thon Group and the Olav Thon Foundation.

Short version 

Olav Thon was born in Ål in Hallingdal in 1923. He showed business acumen early on when he started buying and selling leather in his teens, first in his home village, but soon moved his business to Majorstuen in Oslo.

Eventually, leather sales were replaced by real estate investments. In 1950, Olav Thon bought his first apartment building on Karl Johans gate in Oslo. The apartment building is still owned by Thon and houses the Arkaden shopping centre, among other things. In 1974, Thon bought his first hotel, the venerable Hotel Bristol from 1920, which is still considered one of the capital’s most traditional hotels today.

Large property portfolio

What began with an apartment building in 1950 has grown into a significant property portfolio. Today, over 80 shopping centres and 90 hotels are part of the Olav Thon Group’s portfolio, as well as a number of other commercial buildings, warehouses, housing and leisure properties.

Olav Thon has been awarded both the Order of Saint Olav and the Swedish Order of the Polar Star for his efforts in Norwegian business and the promotion of trade and cooperation between Norway and Sweden.

With a passion for outdoor recreation

In addition to business and investments, Olav Thon has a penchant for simple outdoor living, and in 1991 established a separate foundation to support the Norwegian Trekking Association’s work to promote mountain hiking and outdoor recreation in Norway.

In 2002, the Olav Thon Legat was established with the purpose of providing financial assistance for the development and improvement of the physical, learning and stimulating environment for children, young people and the elderly. In 2013, the Olav Thon Foundation was established to ensure long-term and stable ownership of the Olav Thon Group. Thon transferred the majority of its funds to the foundation, and up to NOK 100 million are distributed annually for research, charitable and public benefit causes.

This, together with his outstanding commitment and generosity towards the Norwegian Trekking Association, has made Olav Thon a philanthropist. 

Olav Thon is an honorary member of the Norwegian Trekking Association and has also been named the Halling of the Century and the Mountain Goat of the Year. Thon has also received the Trysil-Knut award, the Red Cross President’s badge, as well as countless accolades for his efforts for simple outdoor life.