Barack Obama set to speak at Helsinki conference

Luring the ex president to Finland is likely to have come with a steep price tag for event organisers

File picture of former US President Barack Obama / Credit: @ObamaFoundation Instagram

Former US President Barack Obama is visiting the Finnish capital on Thursday, to speak at the Nordic Business Forum conference in Helsinki.

It’s the two-term President’s first visit to the country. While in office he visited Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and Norway but never Finland.

Obama arrives fresh from Oslo where he spoke at a business conference there on Wednesday.

During the Norway speech he addressed the environment and sustainability, and took a shot at his successor in the White House, Donald Trump, by saying that America no longer had an administration with a political or social commitment to sustainability.

Cost of the visit

Luring Barack Obama to a business conference in Helsinki is likely to have come with a steep price tag.

It was reported last year that he commands around $400,000 – or €340,000 at today’s exchange rate – per speaking engagement; and earned $1.5m – almost €1.2m – to give three speeches on Wall Street in September 2017.

On top of that is likely to be security costs and travel expenses.

At the time a spokesperson said Obama’s fees for speaking at events had allowed him to make millions of dollars in donations to Chicago charities.

The cheapest tickets to attend the two day Nordic Business Forum start at €1290 rising to almost €3000 for VIP tickets which were to include a meet and greet with US Olympic ski gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, but earlier this week she pulled out of the Helsinki event, writing on Twitter “I’m so sorry to miss this”.

While it’s free to watch Obama’s speech online this afternoon, the conference makes more money by selling licenses to stream the whole event costing almost €2000.

Previous high profile speakers at the event have included former US Vice President Al Gore, serial entrepreneur Richard Branson and actor-turned-politician-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.