Ikea head's family listed as Switzerland's richest

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected] • 28 Nov, 2014 Updated Fri 28 Nov 2014 12:09 CEST
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The founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, may have left Switzerland for his Swedish homeland but his family is still judged to be the wealthiest in the country, according to an annual list issued by Swiss business magazine Bilanz.

The flatpack furniture king and his sons, Peter, Jonas and Matthias — all Swiss passport holders — command a fortune of between 42 and 43 billion francs ($43.5 billion-$44.5 billion), the magazine says in its 2014 list of the 300 wealthiest individuals and families in Switzerland.

The estimate of the Kamprads’ wealth has been contested by Ikea, which maintains it is significantly lower, and differs substantially from the latest estimate from Forbes magazine, which puts his family’s fortune at $3.8 billion.

The difference appears to boil down to an interpretation of what assets the Kamprads control versus what they own. 

Bilanz says Switzerland’s 300 wealthiest had combined assets of 589 billion francs, up 25 billion francs from a year ago.

Ranking second on the list is the Hoffmann and Oeri families, owners of the Roche pharmaceutical empire, whose wealth grew by four billion to 26-27 billion francs, the magazine says.

Brazilian-Swiss businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann ranked third in the list, with a fortune estimated at 25-26 billion francs.

A large chunk of his wealth is in shares of the world’s biggest beer producer Anheuser-Busch InBev, along with holdings in Burger King and Heinz.

The Brenninkmeijer family, owner of the C&A clothing chain, place fourth with assets of 15-16 billion francs (up by one billion francs), followed by the Brazilian Safra family, based in Geneva and owners of the Safra Sarasin bank (14-15 billion francs, up one billion).

Gennady Timchenko, a Russian businessman based in Geneva, is ranked as the biggest “loser” with a fortune of seven billion, down two billion francs from a year earlier.

Among newcomers to the list is Patrick Drahi, a French-Israeli businessman, with estimated assets of between eight and nine billion francs. 

Through his Altice company, Drahi, based in Zermatt in the canton of Valais, controls French telecom company SFR and cable firm Numericable.

Another foreigner entering the list is Geneva-based Marina Picasso, the grand-daughter of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, whose fortune has risen dramatically to between 1.5 billion and two billion francs, Bilanz says. 

Swiss TV personality Michelle Hunziger joined the list for the first time after marrying Tomaso Trussardi, of the Itlaian fashion house Trussardi, and becoming the owner of an estate worth between 200 and 250 million francs.

Almost one in two on the top 300 list are foreigners, many of them Germans drawn to Switzerland by its favourable tax climate, the SDA news agency reported.

More than 5,000 wealthy foreigners in Switzerland benefit from tax deals in certain cantons that allow them to escape tax on assets and revenue, provided they do not earn any income within the country.

Certain cantons, such as Zurich, have scrapped such deals, but Swiss voters will decide in a referendum on Sunday whether to abolish such agreements nationally.

The rich list carried by Bilanz, a German-language publication, is also published this week by Bilan, the French-language equivalent.

Editor's note: This article was changed to correct a reference to Gennady Timchenko as a Russian rather than Arrmenian businessman, although he was born in Armenia.



Malcolm Curtis 2014/11/28 12:09

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