Kjell Inge Røkke (born 25 October 1958 in Molde) is a Norwegian businessman and among the richest people in Norway, controlling the Norwegian company Aker ASA. He was also a joint owner of Wimbledon Football Club and involved in the controversial relocation of the team from London to Milton Keynes.
Røkke started out as a fisherman aged 18, and has no secondary or higher education. For several years, he worked on fishing trawlers in Alaska. Røkke was based in Seattle, Washington in the 1980s, owning and operating American Seafoods Company and Resource Group International (RGI), which included Brooks Sports and Helly Hansen. In the mid-1990s, he returned to Norway and bought and restructured various companies.
In 2008, Røkke was considered to be the seventh richest person in Norway, with a fortune of NOK 12.5 billion, approximately 2.2 billion U.S. dollars.
Røkke suffers from dyslexia, but claims that it has helped him to his success, and states that he would not be where he is today without his dyslexia.
Røkke is also known for his involvement in association football, and became involved with Norwegian side Molde FK in 1993. He was also central to the funding of the club’s new stadium, which got the nickname “Røkkeløkka” (English: “The Røkke Park”). Some estimates suggest that he has spent about NOK 400 million funding the club.
Røkke, along with his business partner Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, also bought into Wimbledon Football Club in the late 1990s, becoming a joint owner of the team in 2000. The following year, with the side homeless since leaving their Plough Lane ground in 1991 and playing at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park stadium in Croydon, southeast London, Røkke and Gjelsten, along with chairman Charles Koppel and businessman Pete Winkelman agreed to relocate the team to Milton Keynes, a town around 60 miles from their traditional base. This sparked a year of protest at matches from Wimbledon fans, determined not to let their club be ‘franchised’ like this. Although common in American sport, the relocation of a professional English football club had never been done before. After rejections from the Football League and The FA, the decision was eventually passed on to a three-man arbitration panel, the outcome being two to one in favour of the move. Wimbledon fans, outraged with the decision, agreed to form a new club to support, AFC Wimbledon, and declared a boycott on their former team. The following season, Wimbledon FC would go on to play in front of record low crowds, including just 664 for a League Cup game against Rotherham, before finally completing the move in September 2003. It renamed itself a year later, adopting the name Milton Keynes Dons.
|Kjell Inge Røkke|
|Born||25 October 1958
|Net worth||NOK 12.5 billion ≈ $2 billion (2008 estimate)|
|Spouse(s)||Kari Monsen Røkke (deceased)
Anne Grete Eidsvig (m. 2004–)
|Children||Kristian Røkke (b. 1983)
Elisabeth Røkke (b. 1987)
Normann Røkke (b. 2004)
|Parent(s)||Normann Røkke (b. 1926-d.2016)