June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Ikea billionaire Ingvar Kamprad, Europe’s richest person, said he will move back to Sweden, a country he fled four decades ago to avoid high tax rates.
Kamprad’s $51.7 billion fortune makes him the fourth-wealthiest individual in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The 87-year-old controls Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, through a series of trusts and foundations. He left his homeland Sweden for Switzerland in 1973 in an effort to keep Ikea closely held, something he said he couldn’t do with the tax regime in Sweden at the time, according to a foundation spokesman Per Heggenes.
“Moving back to Sweden gets me closer to my family and my old friends,” Kamprad said in a statement. “After my dear wife Margaretha died about a year and a half ago, there is less that keeps me in Switzerland.”
In the 1980s, Kamprad created a complex ownership structure of foundations and other legal entities designed to protect the brand and assure Ikea’s long-term success. Because Kamprad ultimately controls this structure, he is credited with the full value of the Ikea companies and their operations in the Bloomberg calculation of his net worth. Kamprad disputes this, saying that the Ikea fortune is no longer his since he separated the company into two parts more than 30 years ago.
Structure of Empire
Ikea generated more than $36 billion in revenue and $4 billion in net income in 2012 and is owned by the Netherlands-based Stichting INGKA Foundation and Interogo Foundation. Stichting INGKA owns all of the shares in Ikea Group which, in turn, owns about 90 percent of Ikea stores worldwide. Through subsidiaries, Liechtenstein-based Interogo Foundation owns the Ikea concept and its trademarks. Kamprad controls Interogo through the organization’s supervisory board.
Ikano Group, the Kamprad family’s investment vehicle, manages four Ikea franchises, a credit card business and real estate investments.
The flat-pack bring-it-home-yourself furniture chain has 338 stores in 41 countries employing more than 154,000 workers, according to its website. In 2012, it printed 212 million catalogs and recorded 1.1 billion visits to its website.
Kamprad plans to move in autumn to a farm outside of Almhult, Sweden, according to his statement.
“He will pay tax on his earnings, just like all other Swedes. But the move home has no other tax-related consequences,” Heggenes told Radio Sweden.
Among Europe’s richest, Kamprad is slightly ahead of Amancio Ortega, Spain’s richest man. The 77-year-old owns 59 percent of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and parent of the Zara chain.
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