Björn Wahlroos

Maj. KTT
Björn Arne Christer Wahlroos
Born (1952-10-10) October 10, 1952
Helsinki, Finland
Residence Joensuu Mansion, Salo, Finland
Nationality Finnish
Education Doctor of Economic Sciences (1979)
Alma mater Hanken School of Economics
Board member of Sampo Group, chairman
Nordea Bank, chairman
UPM-Kymmene, chairman
Spouse(s) Saara Wahlroos
Children Nina Wahlroos
Thomas Wahlroos
Parent(s) Bror Wahlroos
Marita Wahlroos

Björn Arne Christer Wahlroos (born October 10, 1952 in Helsinki) is the Chairman of the Board in Sampo Group, Nordea and UPM-Kymmene.[1][2] Wahlroos's nickname "Nalle", which means "teddy bear" in Finnish and Swedish, derives from his first name Björn, which means "bear" in Swedish.

His father Bror "Bunta" Wahroos held a high position in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. His mother is a long-time friend of Martti Ahtisaari, president of Finland (1994 - 2000) and they both worked in Africa.

In terms of political economy viewpoint, Björn Wahlroos is known as a defender of laissez-faire economics, a fighter against Keynesian economics. He owns a mansion in Salo in Finland and a second mansion in Nice in France in addition an apartment in Stockholm.


After graduation from gymnasium in 1971 Björn Wahlroos studied at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki. He graduated as a M.Sc in 1975 and got his D.Sc in 1979. The following years were spent in academia; as an acting professor of economics at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and as a visiting professor at Brown University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Illinois, United States.

In 1985 Wahlroos switched career to banking, joining the executive board of Union Bank of Finland (Suomen Yhdyspankki). In 1988 he was appointed Executive vice president and Head of Investment Banking & Treasury at the Union Bank of Finland. Together with half a dozen of his colleagues Wahlroos bought out the investment banking operations of UBF in 1992 and started the partnership Mandatum & Co, which soon became the leading advisor of mergers and acquisitions in Scandinavia. Through a merger with Interbank in 1998 Mandatum was listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

In 2000 Wahlroos merged his banking group into Sampo-Leonia and took over as President and CEO of the combined company, also becoming its biggest private shareholder. In 2009 Wahlroos resigned as CEO and was elected Chairman of Sampo plc, holding company of Sampo Group, which by then had become the biggest insurer in Northern Europe and also the main shareholder of Nordea, the region's largest bank. In March 2011 he was elected as the Chairman of Nordea. He made his fortune rearranging existing wealth created during the era of Finnish welfare state.

Wahlroos is also Chairman of the Board of UPM-Kymmene, the pulp and paper manufacturer.


While a student, Wahlroos was involved in left-wing politics. He was a member of Finlands Svenska Skolungdomsförbundet in 1969-1973 and communist revolutionary student association Sosialistiset taloustieteen opiskelijat in 1971-1973. He left extreme leftist politics in 1973. After this he has withdrawn from active party politics although he is a paying member of the Swedish People's Party. He has nevertheless given public comments that give an indication of his thoughts.

In 2001, he declared himself in favor of a citizen's income in Finland.[3] "Basic security, in my mind, must never be threatened because it is an important part of human modern society", Wahlroos said in the Finnish newspaper Uutispäivä Demari, clearing way to negative income tax thinking. In March 2009 Wahlroos predicted that the economic recession would not endure for long, because the market corrects itself quickly. In March 2010, in an interview in Image magazine, he spoke of the need to cut Finnish development aid because "we have 50 years of money thrown into a bottomless well". In addition, he has criticized giving grants to university students because it, according to Wahlroos, "supports idleness", and regards agricultural and forestry research expenditures as excessive. In June 2010 Wahlroos told the Financial Times that Europe will have to reconsider the future of the Social market economy model, because people cannot be taxed in the future in the current fashion, and poverty and broken families are unsustainable. Wahlroos also believes that agricultural subsidies should be abolished throughout the world: "It is absurd that Finland is with one hand supporting the Zambian agribusiness and the other the EU common agricultural policy. (...) to developing countries at the same time ... when the EU is to abolish agricultural subsidies and open tariff barriers on agricultural products." At the same time he receives remarkable agricultural subsidies himself.

In 2015 Wahlroos published a book defending his laissez-faire economics viewpoint, "De tio sämsta ekonomiska teorierna. Från Keynes till Piketty" (The ten worst economic theories; From Keynes to Piketty).[4] In the book he argues, for instance, that stable economic development is difficult to implement in a democratic social system.

Wahlroos is a member of Libera, a foundation organized under Mont Pelerin Society.


In the Finnish Defence Forces, Wahlroos holds the rank of Major in the reserves.


Wahlroos is married and has two adult children, Thomas and Nina. His son Thomas Wahlroos is well known in the European professional poker circuit and has won nearly 1,5 million dollars from tournament poker.


  1. Finnish business magazine story on Wahlroos (in finnish) Archived September 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Pietiläinen, Tuomo (24 March 2011). "Björn Wahlroos Nordean hallituksen puheenjohtajaksi". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  4. Björn Wahlroos, "De tio sämsta ekonomiska teorierna. Från Keynes till Piketty", Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm, 2015, ISBN 9789100149000.


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