By Rita, The Arendelle Guardian’s Economics Editor
ARENDELLE; RIO DE JANEIRO – Kristoff’s company Bjorgman (nicknamed the Princely House) has made its move against the merchant prince Will Harrison, entering into a series of bruising tussles for industry dominance across the globe. From soap and tobacco in Rio De Janeiro to wool and cotton on the Indian subcontinent, Kristoff has drawn first blood by throwing a wrench into the China trader’s plans for expansion in the British colony of Hong Kong.
The new offensive comes as Bjorgman’s stake in Skau-Krogh allows it greater manoeuvrability and reach into markets once untouched by Kristoff, in particular real estate and transport.
Harrison had attempted a hostile takeover of Matheson Properties, one of Hong Kong’s Scots-owned companies. Matheson Properties was one of the largest developers in the new British port, but suffered a run on its bank in Edinburgh by Harrison and was bankrupted.
At the last moment before Harrison stamped his chop on the promissory note confirming his purchase of Matheson, the enraged tai-pan of Matheson, who’d been in contact with Kristoff, declared his company open to bidding.
With the (reluctant) agreement of Lars Krogh, boss of Skau-Krogh, Kristoff combined a share of Bjorgman and Skau-Krogh funds and outbid Harrison’s original offer by double. Unable to match such an unexpected counteroffer, Harrison and his secretary Tiffany Hunsecker were forced to beat an inglorious retreat, furious at having been bested for the first time since he forced Anna to surrender two of four trading privileges with China.
Kristoff’s surprise move denies the China trader a charterer for his ships, voiding his immediate banking contracts. Real estate along the wharf of will now be dominated by the Princely House, allowing Kristoff to expand his branch along Ice House Street to other areas.
Such an expertly executed offensive shows, perhaps to the outrage of Arendelle’s enemies, that he and Anna are working closely together, as trade executive-cum-royal consort and queen but also as loving and co-equal partners.
“This was an absolute victory for Arendelle,” gushed Jacques, a tall and silver-haired director of the Princely House. Of relative seniority, over fifty-five summers, he sat with fellow director Leif, a lanky and cocky-looking youth. Both were dressed in Arendellian suits and sat at the end of the long mahogany table in the boardroom of Bjorgman. “You have every right to be proud, Kristoff. As does the former tai-pan of Matheson Properties.”
“Quite,” chimed in Leif, who had a nasally, slightly whiny voice. He was a bit of a spoilt brat, the Oxford-educated son of a wealthy Arendellian merchant with a fake British accent (which he used to try and show off to local women). Still, he had a good heart and was loyal to the Princely House. “Now Mr. Matheson will get from us a cushy directorship in a restructured subsidiary. Win-win. Your fiancée – the queen – deployed us well, boss. We ate that bastard Harrison’s lunch in Peony Sinclair’s stomping grounds.”
He grinned at Kristoff, who was sitting at the other end of the table. “Hey, boss, do you think we’ll get a bit of praise from that beauty? Miss Sinclair, I mean? God’s wounds, she’s the prettiest English bird I’ve ever seen. They don’t make them like that in Arendelle.”
“Leif, I’m surprised Kristoff hasn’t thrown you out yet,” sniffed Jacques. “Any other trading house and your vulgar, barely-past adolescent behind would be unemployed.”
“Screw you, Jacques. Let’s press our advantage and smash the rest of Harrison’s subsidiaries in Hong Kong’s town of Victoria!” cried Leif, slamming his fist on the table. “Now’s the time to drive out that damned Virginian out of Asia altogether, and get back in the good graces of the emperor of China!”
Kristoff lowered The Arendelle Guardian’s morning edition broadsheet. He’d been reading the article about his recent outfoxing of Harrison. “Mmm,” he said quietly, his voice a gentle grunt. He wore his ice harvester’s outfit – a more rugged and humble attire than Leif’s or Jacques’, but it suited him better. “Harrison still has a fleet of nineteen ships, and triple our number of ports and property acquisitions.” He put the paper on the table, standing up and walking over to the windows facing the dockside. “For now, Leif, we’re going to play cat and mouse with ’em. We’ll neutralize their attempts to consolidate their footholds, and when they’re sapped and demoralized from our ambushes, we’ll team up with other companies to confront them head-on. Unite and conquer, rather than divide. Harrison’s too strong for any other way.”
Like Skau-Krogh, the offices and boardroom of Bjorgman occupied prime real estate by the wharf, directly facing Arenfjord and the ships that sailed in and out of the harbour. It was a splendid view from dawn to dusk. Kristoff often missed the old days when business simply meant hopping on his sled and travelling the continent with Sven, searching for buyers of his first-class ice. Now, as managing director of Bjorgman, work meant being indoors for much of the day, sealing deals, keeping track of ledgers, loans, and procurements and shipments from multiple ports, and meeting with Anna’s statesmen like Michael the trade minister and giving interviews to the Big Three papers.
It was… different to his old life. In fact, if he wasn’t going to mince words, it was a world away, and he wasn’t always sure this new life was his world. But he reassured himself with the fact that he wasn’t always manager of the Princely House, and he wouldn’t always be.
One day, he’d have to mentor a successor… a talented junior sailor or adventurous ice harvester, perhaps. Or maybe one of the more bookish accountants that had an eye for profit.
Or – dare he dream big – perhaps one of his future children with Anna?
He didn’t care about dynasties or some ego-boosting legacy. He was a humble orphan and his family never depended on blood ties. His love for Anna and Elsa proved that. But he knew that Anna would want their children to find their own path, even if that meant not taking up the throne after Anna’s reign.
Maybe one of them would be keen to take up the business that connected him and their mother all those years back, when he was getting carrots for Sven at Oaken’s trading post?
Admittedly, he found all this exciting in its own way.
He’d never been boss of such a big trading company before. He’d gotten a leg up thanks to Elsa, when she made him Ice Master shortly after her coronation. Now the Princely House had royal backing. Anna’s involvement only made it more fun, and he was glad to be of help to her. All he wanted was her happiness and success. And if he could help her and the Arendellian nation by building flourishing businesses and productive investments, well… he wasn’t a politician, or a soldier like Mattias, but he was a trader at heart. He could never say no to Anna’s cause.
“This is only the beginning, gentlemen. Bjorgman has a lot of catching up to do if it’s going to put fear into the heart of that Exalted member. I’ll never forgive a man that makes Anna cry,” said Kristoff, looking away from the always-pleasant view of the ships and people strolling by the docks. He stood before his executives, feeling a surge of inspiration as he thought of Anna and how pleased she surely was at getting back at Harrison. Yes, he thought. I’m a part of something bigger.
And it feels good.
“Now where are we going to hit Harrison where it hurts?” he invited, grinning.