Good visibility, fair winds

In early 1968, the Salén group passed Broström, previously the biggest shipping company in Sweden, in tonnage. The margin was only 14,000 DWT, but the press proclaimed Sven Salén the country’s new shipping king. Sven Salén disparaged the claim, saying that Broström’s tonnage was more specialised and therefore qualitatively better.

In a memorial issue of Salén-Nytt in November 1969, Sture Ödner wrote:

“The shipping and commercial company he built from scratch was thriving. Both his young sons had learnt the ropes. Important business deals had just been signed after lengthy negotiations. He had just launched his own and Sweden’s biggest ship, one that well fitted his concept of large, swift ships. It was an honourable finale.

Adventure and risk were natural to him and a stimulating part of his life’s work. He found it equally natural to enjoy the fruits of his courageous and forward-looking commitment.

In his prime, there was always an atmosphere of fun around Sven Salén. The meetings we had, even those involving very important business, did not always meet the expectations I had as a young man for deathly seriousness in such matters. But it worked. 

Sven Salén liked making money. Why else would you go into business? But that was far from his main motivation; many were the unprofitable deals accepted over the years principally to help less fortunate friends. Illogical perhaps, but human. Such a man was he, and so shall we remember him.”

Read the chapter (the book opens in a new tab)

The acquisition of Rex shipping in 1967 was initiated by Marcus Wallenberg and pushed through by Sven Salén – still capable, only two years before his death, of overturning decisions made by senior management.