By Mikael, Business Editor for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE: The queen’s fiancé and trusted commercial ally, Kristoff, is poised to save rival company Skau-Krogh from looming bankruptcy. In return, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman (nicknamed the Princely House, a sarcastic reference to his commoner origins and engagement to Anna) will take over All Arendelle Tea, Skau-Krogh’s subsidiary, with Kristoff enjoying a considerable ten per cent stake in his old rival.
The agreement is humiliating but necessary for Skau-Krogh’s tai-pan, Lars Krogh, who had made his firm the willing pawn of the American merchant prince Will Harrison in a corporate war with Bjorgman across multiple industries. From silks and tea to ice and real estate, Skau-Krogh had tried to drive Bjorgman out of business with Harrison’s superior finances. It also obtained a private fleet, courtesy of Harrison, attacking Anna’s allies of Weselton and Chatho. Bjorgman had struggled to keep up with Skau-Krogh, but a twist of fate involving Harrison’s capture of Mari, the princess of Vesterland, and the Duke of Weselton, allowed Harrison to wrench his coveted prize of two lucrative trading privileges in the China trade from our queen. With the Treaty of Weselton granting him these terms, Harrison released Mari and the Duke and ceased to be Skau-Krogh’s backer, leaving Lars deeply in debt with assets he couldn’t pay off, from empty warehouses and docks to uncultivated tea plantations.
Kristoff’s new role as a political influencer on top of his role as top dog of Bjorgman heralds a new plank of Anna’s new strategy, which aims to make Arendelle’s trading houses a key ally in her foreign policy. While detractors in the business paper of the Fjord Times and the Arendellian Commerce Chamber are wary about any return to state-sponsored mercantilism, the shocking ease with which the powerful Harrison manipulated a domestic trade war for his personal gain has united the kingdom’s parliament behind Anna’s new approach.
It was six in the morning and the shimmering fjord waters gave off an oceanic freshness that every Arendellian loved. Kristoff shifted uncomfortably as said queen adjusted his collar impatiently, tutting and fussing over him as they waited for his corporate nemesis by the palace courtyard. Anna was in her beige getup. A few months ago, it was Harrison who played the wily one, visiting Skau-Krogh’s dock offices as if he were merely an investor seeking a good deal. Now, with Skau-Krogh, it was Lars Krogh’s turn to leave his comfortable view of the seaside by the harbour and go, cap in hand, to Kristoff for a deal that could save his company.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, babe, but you have to make an effort to look the occasion,” quipped Anna, as she stepped back and admired Kristoff’s beige and brown outfit. “Your negotiations with Lars today could put my new plan for the economy on the right track.”
Kristoff nodded. “I get it, I get it. Nahir and Mike said the same thing. I’ll get you a good bargain from Lars for sure. I’m not so sure, as usual, about this blazer and these trousers.”
Before Anna and Kristoff could continue exchanging good-natured bickering, they were interrupted by the sight of Lars. There he was, the burly, tough man with sideburns in an elegant Arendellian business suit. He strode across the bridge toward the palace courtyard. Anna’s smile grew more strained, but she stopped herself from raising her voice. “New coat?” she invited thinly, pointing at Lars’ fine felt jacket.
“Yes,” said Lars, “fine fox hide, a sample gifted to me by Tiffany.”
“Miss Hunsecker misled you big time, Mr. Krogh,” said Anna, staring at Lars with her penetrating eyes, “but so did Mr. Harrison. He played us all – Bjorgman, your company, my government. And the moment he got what he wanted from me, he bailed on you.”
“You wanted to see us, Lars,” said Kristoff loudly, “before the stock market in Amsterdam opened.”
“If you keep on buying up my stocks, I’ll be forced out of my own company,” grunted Lars.
“Yes. I know,” said Kristoff, unmoved. “That was kind of the idea after you tried to short sell Bjorgman bonds. We counterattacked by buying lots of Skau-Krogh assets, but now that your backer’s gone, Bjorgman’s shareholders are pretty much the only fellas in town that have a hope – or an interest – in saving your firm.”
“Your borderline traitorous firm,” snapped Anna. “You’re lucky I’m not charging you with treason for attacking my allies, even if the warships were provided by Harrison.”
Lars sighed. “Then name your price.”
“Why should I?” said Kristoff, folding his muscular arms. Anna looked at him admiringly. What a cutie, she thought, before returning her attention to Lars, who sighed even louder.
“Are we really going to indulge in this charade? It’s insulting. Well, I’ll bite. Even if I’m on the back foot, Skau-Krogh is still a large trading house and its collapse wouldn’t be good for anyone in the kingdom’s economy. And admit it, Kristoff – no one else can give you an even fight. Life would be boring without me snapping at your heels.”
“I suppose, but you made it personal when you pretty much helped Harrison humiliate Anna.” Kristoff leaned in, crossing his arms. “I’m willing to let you keep ownership of Skau-Krogh,” he said slowly, “if I get a seat on your executive board, and we have it in signing that we’ll vote as one bloc. No one does anything unless we both agree. And I want to take over All Arendelle Tea, your subsidiary.” All Arendelle Tea was Arendelle’s largest importer of tea leaves, and for years Bjorgman had been crowded out of the tea market by Skau-Krogh’s ownership of All Arendelle Tea – until now.
Lars snorted. “I accept.”
Anna and Kristoff looked at each other in surprise. “Don’t you want to bargain?” she probed, after Kristoff didn’t say anything. Neither she nor Kristoff could help smiling.
“I don’t want trouble from you, Your Majesty – so you won’t find me giving you any.” Lars glared witheringly at Kristoff. “You’ll have the papers for our agreement on your desk by noon.”
He turned away, walking away from Arendelle Castle, before turning back, snapping at Kristoff: “Damn you, Royal Consort – and perdition to the Princely House!”
Then he turned away for real, heading back to his dockside office to brood and plot a comeback. Meanwhile, Kristoff and Anna just looked at each other, bewildered, before breaking into shocked but delighted laughter.