Victory Challenge backer dies

Major blow to Swedish America's Cup challenger

Tuesday August 20th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Scandinavia
Jan Stenbeck, Swedish media and telecom entrepreneur and the main backer of Sweden's Victory Challenge America's Cup campaign, died of a heart attack last night at the American Hospital in Paris after a brief illness.

59 year old chairman of Industriforvaltnings AB Kinnevik, Stenbeck made his name by rebuilding his family controlled iron, steel and forestry company into a giant of the telecom and media world in Sweden, rivalling the state-owned telecoms company Telia until it was privatised in 2000. He performed a similar stunt in the television world when he challenged the state television monopoly in Sweden by setting up the satellite channel, TV3, which beamed television straight into Swedish homes from London.

Other coups in the company's history were the establishment of secure telephone credit card transactions in the mid-1980s, pay-TV and homeshopping since 1989 and the launch of the Metro newspaper in 1995. The group's Tele2 company recently was awarded the contract to set up the next generation 3G cellular phone platform in Sweden.

Kinnevik is currently valued at $3 billion and owns newspapers, television and radio stations, cellular and fixed phone companies and Internet ISPs with interests in 50 countries.

Personally Stenbeck was estimated to be worth $800 million. He had been grooming his daughter Christina to take over his role in the company.

In Auckland, Bert Willborg of Victory Challenge told madfor sailing that the management of Stenbeck's companies, who are supporting Victory Challenge, have given the clear message that the America's Cup campaign will continue according to plan. These companies include Metro, TV3 and Tele2.

The news comes after the launch of Victory Challenge's second yacht in Auckland today. "We plan to go out with the new boat tomorrow morning for our first sailing."

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