Wealthiest Swiss prosper in tough economic times

Wealthiest Swiss prosper in tough economic times
Ingvar Kamprad seen lecturing in Sweden (Photo: Hasse Karlsson)
Most people may be tightening their belts these days, but not the 300 richest people in Switzerland.

Despite the economic malaise enveloping Europe, the country’s wealthiest tycoons are even richer this year than last, according to an online report appearing on Friday from Bilanz, the German-language business magazine.

The magazine estimates that the top 300 are worth 512 billion francs, 31 billion francs more than a year ago, an increase of 6.5 percent.

The rise, the third consecutive jump in wealth for this exclusive group, came despite concerns from the Swiss corporate world about the impact of the strong franc and declining exports.

Ikea founder and Swedish expat Ingvar Kamprad, 86, who lives near Lausanne, remains at the top of the pile, with a fortune estimated at 38-39 billion francs, up by three billion francs from the previous year, Blianz estimates.

Lake Zurich resident Jorge Lemann, a major sharehiolder in the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, is ranked second with assets of 18 billion francs, roughly double what they were a year earlier.

Russian oligarch Viktor Vekelsberg is placed in third spot with an estimated fortune of 14-15 billion francs, up by four billion francs from a year ago.

Bilanz said strong stock markets are among the reasons helping the super-rich.

“The blue-chip SMI (Swiss Market Index) barometer improved by as much as 24 percent,” the magazine said.

“And the equity markets are still one of the main places where the rich invest their money.”

The average wealth of the 300 is 1.7 billion francs although this is unevenly distributed, with 100 million francs set as the entry level for the exclusive club.

Expats are a dominant force in the top 300, accounting for 132 of the spots with tycoons from 14 nations represented apart from Switzerland.

In all, the magazine estimates the country is home to 137 billionaires, whose assets together amount to 438 billion francs.


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