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How many foreigners are in Switzerland's top 1 percent of earners?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How many foreigners are in Switzerland's top 1 percent of earners?
It takes a lot of those to be counted among the wealthiest people in Switzerland. Photo: Swiss National Bank, media

Switzerland is synonymous with wealth, which means many ultra-rich people live here. But how many of them are foreign nationals?


To be counted among the richest one-percent of Switzerland’s current population, you’d need just under six million francs in assets — 5,915,493 francs to be exact.

(This may seem like A LOT of money for mere mortals — and it is. But it pales in comparison to assets held by the world’s richest people — for instance, Elon Musk — which exceed the 200-billion mark).

Still, even on a global scale, Switzerland fares very well — it is second only to Monaco in terms of wealth threshold — the level of individual net worth needed to join the top 1-percent — according to asset management company Knight Frank. 

In this respect, Switzerland outperforms even the traditional ‘wealth hubs’ like the United States and Saudi Arabia, Knight Frank’s data indicates.

READ ALSO: How much money puts you in Switzerland’s top one percent?

So who are the 10 wealthiest people in Switzerland and how many foreigners are among them?

The answer is provided by Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List .

Billionaires in the number one and two spots in Switzerland are both foreigners.

German national, 86-year-old Klaus-Michael Kühne, is the majority shareholder of the Schwyz-based transport logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel.  His wealth is estimated at 41 billion francs.

Next is Italian national Gianluigi Aponte, 83, the founder, owner and chairman of Mediterranean Shipping Company. He and his wife, Rafaela Aponte-Diamant, 78, are worth 30 billion francs.

These two billionaires are the only foreign nationals on the top-10 list.


Two others are foreign-born naturalised Swiss citizens: Ernesto Bertarelli, 58, born in Italy, is active in business, finance, sport and philanthropy, His fortune of 9.5 billion francs puts him in the third place.

In the fourth place, Ivan Glasenberg, 66, was born in South Africa but is now a Swiss citizen. He made his 9.1-billion-franc fortune with Glencore, one of the world's largest commodity trading and mining companies. 

The other six people on the list are all Swiss-born: Magdalena Martullo-Blocher and her sister, Rahel Blocher, are daughters of Christoph Blocher a prominent figure within the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.

The women have a fortune of 7.2 billion each, made from a family business, Ems-Chemie.

Also worth 7.2 billion is Guillaume Pousaz, CEO and founder of payment platform

Next are Thomas Schmidheiny, former chairman of Swiss cement manufacturer Holcim (5.7 billion); and Michael Pieper, owner of the kitchen appliance manufacturer Franke (5.5 billion).

The ‘poorest’ person on the list, with only 5.3 billion francs to his name, is Thomas Straumann, who owns a 17-percent stake in the world's largest manufacturer of dental implants, Straumann Holding.


Where do all those billionaires (and millionaires) live?

We know that Switzerland's wealthiest individual, Klaus-Michael Kühne, lives in the small town of Schindellegi, in canton Schwyz, while the Apontes reside in Geneva.

Usually, the super-wealthy choose cantons / towns, where either the taxes are lowest, or where they can work out a favourable lump-sum taxation with local authorities.

While the wealthy can be found in any well-heeled community in Switzerland, certain towns have a particularly high proportion of millionaires relative to their populations. These 10 towns are:

Wollerau, Schwyz
Feusisberg, Schwyz
Vandoeuvres, Geneva
Cologne, Geneva
Walchwil, Zug
Freienbach, Schwyz
Pierrafortscha, Fribourg
Rossenges, Vaud
Buchillon, Vaud 
Küsnacht, Zurich

READ ALSO: The Swiss communities where you're more likely to meet a millionaire



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