All posts by Madeleine Brekke

Minister Huitfeldt’s lecture at Luther College, Iowa

Lecture by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Anniken Huitfeldt held at Luther College, Iowa. September 23, 2023

Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for your welcoming words,

I am very pleased to be here at Luther College. A college founded by Norwegians more than 160 years ago. Its first president was Peter Laurentius Larsen – Laur Larsen. He was born in the town of Kristiansand on the southern coast of Norway in 1833. When Larsen grew up, Norway was among the poorest countries in Europe.

And many left for America. Some of them returned home, but the majority of them settled in this new land. Most of them here in the Midwest. Looking for opportunities and a better life.

Such as Niels Johnsen Kaasa from Heddal in Telemark. He left Norway in 1839 and eventually settled in Winnishiek County, Iowa. He ended up as a pastor here in Decorah.

I can imagine the young Niels Kaasa sitting on the top of a hill in his native Telemark in 1839 – before he left for the U.S. Looking out over the village, the valleys, and the countryside.

And what he saw was mostly misery. Poverty. He saw people with small or no chances of social mobility. If you were born poor then, you were destined to become poor for the rest of your life. He saw no hope. No future.

Then I imagine that same Niels Kaasa sitting on top of that same hill in Telemark today. Looking out over the same village, valleys, and countryside. What he would have seen? How he would have reacted? He would have seen much the same landscape, but a completely different country.

He would have seen a country with opportunities. Prosperity. Hope.

He would have seen people with equal chances of social mobility, whether they are born rich or poor. Black or white. Girl or boy. Educated people with all the possibilities in the world to pursue a good life.

Now, Norway is not unique in that sense. Many European countries from where people emigrated, and perhaps in particular the Nordics, have been through a similar transformation. From poverty to prosperity. And although there are many reasons and explanations for that journey, the most important one, I think, can be summed up in one word: Trust.

Trust between people. Trust between rulers and those who are ruled. Trust in the government due to trust in the system of governance.

And I should also add: Trust between nations.

Continue Reading HERE

AmCham Mentorship Program – 2nd Group Gathering 2023

AmCham Mentorship Program Group Meeting: Work Culture & High-Quality Mentoring

AmCham’s latest Mentorship Program group gathering, graciously hosted by AIG, featured enlightening presentations and discussions by both AIG’s Tobias Larsen and Elisabeth Hellemose. Shedding light on the theme of “Bridging US and Nordic Work Cultures,” their insights into AIG’s approach to Values, Volunteerism, and Employee Resource Groups underscored how these strategies foster not only employee engagement but also enhanced performance.

A Unique Collaborative Platform

Mirha Sunagić, Associate Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN), subsequently shared her team’s detailed research on AmCham’s Mentorship Program. In her “High-Quality Mentoring Relationships” presentation, Professor Sunagić shared findings on how the program serves as a unique collaborative platform, preparing emerging leaders for the challenges of today’s international business environment – while fostering robust AmCham community connections.

The meeting culminated in productive break-out sessions where mentors and mentees exchanged insights from their program experiences thus far. The cohort looks forward to embarking on the program’s second half in the months ahead!

Participating Companies 2022-23:

About the AmCham Mentorship Program

With its unique cross-industry orientation, AmCham’s Mentorship Program offers a dynamic, internationally minded arena for leadership development.

The program pairs emerging corporate talent with seasoned executives from AmCham Patron-level member companies. The result: a collaborative arena that fosters improvement and reflection, prepares young leaders for the challenges of the international marketplace, and forges bonds between AmCham’s transatlantic member companies. For further information and interest in the program, please contact amcham@amcham.no.

Equinor acquires stake in Bayou Bend CCS Project

Equinor has acquired a 25 percent interest in Bayou Bend CCS LLC, positioned to be one of the largest US carbon capture and storage projects located along the Gulf Coast in Southeast Texas.

“Commercial CCS solutions are critical for hard-to-abate industries to meet their climate ambitions while maintaining their activity. Entering Bayou Bend strengthens our low carbon solutions portfolio and supports our ambition to mature and develop 15-30 million tonnes of equity CO2 transport and storage capacity per year by 2035. Our experience from developing carbon storage projects can help advance decarbonization efforts in one of the largest industrial corridors in the US,” said Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor.

Bayou Bend is positioned to be one of the largest CCS solutions in the US for industrial emitters, with nearly 140,000 gross acres of pore space for permanent CO2 sequestration and gross potential storage resources of more than one billion metric tons. The Bayou Bend total acreage includes nearly 100,000 gross acres onshore in Chambers and Jefferson Counties, Texas, and approximately 40,000 gross acres offshore Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas.

“We look forward to working together with our partners to further mature this exciting project. Bayou Bend is Equinor’s first announced low carbon solutions project on the Gulf Coast. Alongside our upstream production and offshore wind developments, we’re strengthening our position as a broad energy company and expanding our footprint in the Gulf region,” said Chris Golden, senior vice president and US Country Manager. “Bayou Bend is a significant milestone towards growing our low carbon portfolio in the US.”

Bayou Bend is a joint venture between Chevron U.S.A. Inc., through its Chevron New Energies division, Talos Energy Inc., through its Talos Low Carbon Solutions division, and Equinor. Equinor acquired its 25 percent share through the purchase of Texas Carbon 1 LLC, a subsidiary of Carbonvert. Chevron is the operator with 50 percent interest, and Talos holds 25 percent interest.

Read full story HERE.

AmCham Norway’s 23rd Annual Golf Tournament

Generously sponsored by Oracle and PwC, the AmCham Golf Tournament celebrated its 23rd anniversary at Asker Golf Club, bringing together 23 teams comprised of 92 players from all sectors of Norway’s international business community to network and compete for the coveted Søderstrøm Cup and a top prize of round trip tickets to the US from Icelandair.

The tournament’s format, Texas Scramble and special hole competitions – kept golfers on their toes and ensured everyone had a great day “at work!”

Gathering for the first time at Asker’s beautiful course, the weather played on our side after a turbulent summer weatherwise. Players kept cool in the sun, enjoying refreshing beverages throughout the day, courtesy of Coca-Cola and enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner buffet al fresco.

In a close team competition, WTW came in first place and walked away with the tournament cup, four round trip tickets from Icelandair to any of their US destinations, as well as prizes provided by AmerikalinjenHelly Hansen, signed copies of Suzann “Tutta” Pettersen’s book, and AmCham whiskey glasses.

Determined by handicap, First House came in second, just ahead of PwC in third. The 2nd and 3rd place winners walked away with prizes from Asker Golf Club, Google, Mondelez, NetJets, Shades of Norway, Starbucks, and Radisson RED.

As in previous years, several individual prizes were also up for grabs. Robert Nash earned the “closest to the pin”  Eleni & Chris hair and skincare set from IC Scandinavia and a gift card for virtual golf at PINPIN Oslo.

Grant Thornton’s Inger Johanna Ystanes won the women’s longest drive, taking home an exclusive gift card for a departure from Avinor’s VIP terminal.  PwC’s Casper Nilsen Moe captured the men’s prize for longest drive, coming away with the second exclusive gift card for a departure from Avinor’s VIP terminal

Three players competed for the final putt off with WTW‘s Klaus Stabell coming out on top, taking home a gift card from Hotel Bristol, a hair and skincare set from IC Scandinavia and a goodie bag from Warner Bros Discovery.

The increasingly popular tournament is held in August each year, the week after Arendalsuka. For questions about participation, prizes, or sponsorship for the AmCham Golf Tournament, please contact Madeleine Brekke at Madeleine.Brekke@amcham.no

The winning team from WTW (and Boston Scientific)
Second Place: Team First House

2023 Prize Sponsors

AmCham at Arendalsuka 2023 – Multinationals in Norway: Patients, Innovation & Profit  

AmCham at Arendalsuka 2023 – Multinationals in Norway: Patients, Innovation & Profit

This year at Arendalsuka, AmCham hosted a crowded meeting at Clarion Tyholmen addressing the central question: “Is the Norwegian healthcare sector competitive?” AmCham members represent 21 industries, with a significant number within the healthcare industry. In Arendal, our panellists debated the progress made on the Health Industry white paper (Meld. St. 18, 208-2019) and what is needed to make the public healthcare sector an attractive partner for international business.  

Parliamentary panelists included Per Vidar Kjølmoen (The Standing Committee on Business and Industry, Labor Party), Mahmoud Farahmand (The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, Conservative Party), and Alfred Jens Bjørlo (The Standing Committee on Business and Industry, Liberal Party).  All three MPs emphasized the potential of the health industry as an important growth area for Norway, and commercialization requires further work. Farahmand remarked that foreign investment, access to investment, and public procurement are further steps in making the public healthcare sector an attractive partner for business.  

Patient groups were represented on the panels by Trine Beate Nicolaysen, General Secretary, The Norwegian Childhood Cancer Society and Kristin Kornelia Utne, Board Member, The Norwegian Medical Association and President of the Norwegian Junior Doctors Association. Here, real life examples were given on the need for faster approval of innovative life-saving medicines and challenges from the perspective of clinicians.  

Industry was represented by member companies AbbVie (Kirsti Nyhus, Managing Director – Norway), Merck (Taher Hassan, Cluster Lead, Nordics and Baltics), and Roche (Martin Haswell, General Manager – Norway). Nyhus discussed the value of the health industry and its importance for Norway. As a regional leader, Taher provided insight into what Norway could learn from its neighbors in addressing barriers to private-sector value creation in the Norwegian healthcare sector. Haswell emphasized that the Norwegian healthcare sector has room to grow in its collaboration with industry and implementation of innovative solutions.  

Going forward, multinational healthcare investment in Norway will hinge upon:  

AmCham will continue to work diligently on all fronts.  

Presenting Member Companies:

Norway fund wants more women on boards, concerned about excessive CEO pay

Norway’s $1.4 trillion wealth fund, the world’s single largest stock market investor, is to step up pressure on the companies it invests in to have more women board members and to also reduce excessive executive pay, a top fund official said.

The fund is one of a growing number investors and policymakers pushing to put more women in company boardrooms. Having a broader range of experiences around a boardroom table has been shown to improve decision-making and corporate culture.

Read more HERE.

IRA spurs renewable buildout, but Biden climate goals remain elusive

A year after its adoption, the Inflation Reduction Act has bolstered the adoption of carbon-free power, but the country does not yet appear to be on track to meet President Biden’s climate goals.

The IRA provided significant tax credits for low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources including wind, solar, nuclear, carbon capture technology and biofuels, as well as for electric vehicles.

Recent reports have found that these subsidies are having an impact.

Read more HERE.

Norway central bank raises rate to 4.0%, eyes September hike

Norway’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.0% on Thursday to try to curb inflation, as widely forecast, and said it would likely hike again in September.

Thursday’s hike had been expected by all 31 economists polled by Reuters, and a majority of poll participants predicted the rate would hit a peak of 4.25% by the end of the third quarter, in line with the central bank’s projection.

Read more HERE.

Statement from President Joe Biden on EU Adoption of Adequacy Decision for U.S.-EU Data Flows

“I welcome the European Commission’s adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework—which will allow personal data to be transferred from Europe to U.S. companies safely and securely. Today’s announcement represents the culmination of years of close cooperation between the United States and the European Union, and affirms the strength of our transatlantic relationship founded on our shared democratic values and vision for the world. The decision reflects our joint commitment to strong data privacy protections and will create greater economic opportunities for our countries and companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

AmCham Financial Forum: The Future of Banking & Global Supply Chains

AmCham Financial Forum: The Future of Banking & Global Supply Chains

Cross-industry member leaders gathered at AmCham’s downtown offices for a morning Financial Forum focusing on the expectations for the future of banking and global supply chain updates.

PA Consulting Partner & Head of Financial Services Norway, Clint Sookermany, and Partner Financial Services and Head of Operating Model Capability, Knut Erlend Vik, jointly presented The Future of Retail Banking – How business leaders should respond.

Retail banking is one of many vital industries undergoing ever-faster change. In their recent report, The Vision for Banking: A Force for Future Good. PA Consulting has developed four potential industry scenarios for 2023 to better understand how banking might evolve. Participants went on to discuss real-world scenarios, impacts on their own industries, their likelihood and pros and cons of each.

Image: PA Consulting

Presenters

Clint Sookermany – Partner & Head of Financial Services Norway

Knut Erlend Vik – Partner Financial Services and Head of Operating Model Capability

Morten Sloth Madsen – Managing Director of Norway & Sweden

Digitalization as a Driving Force

DSV’s Managing Director of Norway & Sweden, Morten Sloth Madsen, joined us for an update on the global supply chain with a look back at and predicted logistical impacts, developments, and expectations for the industry.

The past few years of pandemic, political unrest, container shortages, port congestion, geopolitical conflict, and inflationary pressures have exposed vulnerabilities in our supply chains – causing frustration for businesses and consumers alike. As a global player in air, ground and sea logistics, Madsen provided keen insights into the current market and what business leaders need to be highly aware of in the time ahead.

About the AmCham Financial Forum

AmCham’s collaborative Financial Forum enables cross-industry leaders to openly exchange and learn from their peers – building a better understanding of what it takes to maintain successful international operations in Norway.

Please contact Madeleine.brekke@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

DSV Slide
Image: DSV

Past Financial Forum Meetings