SHIPPING: A Giant Becalmed

Few businesses are as nerve-racking as the chartering of behemoth supertankers to carry oil, and until recently few tycoons played the risks with such consummate cool as Norway's Hilmar Reksten, 77. The tanker business seems always to swing from boom times of frantic demand and soaring charter rates to busts during which expensive tankers lie idle and unwanted. Reksten, a ramrod-straight six-footer and lone-wolf operator, started out as a shipping clerk; in 1929 he bought a freighter cheap, parlayed it into a modest fleet (thanks in part to two rich wives), then seized on slumps to buy up tonnage...

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