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#133 Kjeld Kristiansen $11.0B

Random fact: Lego has been named as the world's most powerful brand.


Kristiansen is chairman of Kirkbi, a family holding company that owns 75 percent of Lego, Europe's largest toymaker. The Billund, Denmark-based company makes more than 60 billion toy pieces annually and had revenue of more than $5.6 billion in 2016. Kirkbi also owns 30 percent of Merlin Entertainments Group.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change -$19.5M (-0.2%)
YTD change +$855M (+8.4%)
Industry Consumer
Biggest asset Lego
Citizenship Denmark
Age 69
Wealth Inherited
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Kjeld Kristiansen's net worth of $11.0B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Kristiansen's fortune is derived from his 38 percent economic interest in Lego, Europe's largest toymaker. His stake in the closely held company is controlled through a 51 percent stake in Billund, Denmark-based Kirkbi, a family holding entity that owns 75 percent of Lego's toy-making business and all of the brand's naming rights. His three children hold the balance, according to Orbis, a database of company information published by Bureau van Dijk.

Lego had revenue of 37.9 billion Danish krone ($5.6 billion) in 2016, according to its annual report. Its valuation is based on the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiple of two publicly traded peer companies: Hasbro and Mattel. A 10 percent discount is applied to account for Lego's less diversified product line.

Kirkbi also owns 30 percent of Merlin Entertainments Group, according to the company's 2016 annual report. Its other holdings include 14 percent of Matas, the publicly traded Danish drugstore chain, 10 percent of service provider ISS, 5 percent of industrial supply company, NKT Holding and 10 percent of cleaning products-maker, Nilfisk Holding. Kristiansen is allocated a 51 percent share of these stakes to reflect his interest in Kirkbi.

Kristiansen receives licensing fees and dividends from Lego, according to the company's annual report. The value of Kirkbi's cash holdings and closely held investments, including an offshore wind farm and real estate, are captured through an analysis of dividends, market performance, insider transactions, taxes and charitable contributions. An outflow has been included in his valuation based on the $450 million he paid in 2007 to buy a 20 percent stake in Lego held by his sister, and his share of Kirkbi's debt to Lego, as detailed in the 2016 annual report.

Roar Rude Trangbaek, a Lego spokesman, said Kristiansen declined to comment on his net worth.


Birthdate: 12/27/1947
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: 1972, Aarhus University, Bachelor's Degree University of Lausanne, Master's Degree

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen was born in Billund, Denmark in 1947, 15 years after his carpenter grandfather, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, founded Lego. As a child, Kjeld tested new Lego models and concepts made by his grandfather and appeared on the company's packaging. He studied at Aarhus University's School of Business on the east coast of Denmark and completed his MBA at the IMD business school in Switzerland in 1972.

He joined Lego's management board in 1974, and soon developed the first Lego figurines that were the predecessor of the iconic mini-figures first released in 1979. That same year, he became president and chief executive officer of the company.

Kristiansen oversaw the expansion of Legoland theme parks in the 1990s, adding operations in the U.K., Germany and the U.S. He also began the practice of licensing branding rights from moviemakers, which led to the release of Star Wars-themed building sets in 1999. The company also expanded into computer games, films and clothing. He became chairman of Kirkbi, the investment company that holds his family's 75 percent stake in Lego, in 1996.

By 2004, disappointing sales and competition from Hasbro and Mega Bloks saw Lego post its third annual loss in five years. Kristiansen implemented a turnaround plan, shedding 1,000 jobs and pruning product lines, before stepping aside. He served as first deputy chairman of Lego until April 2016, when he announced his son, Thomas, would succeed him in the role as the first step towards a "smooth generational handover." Thomas also assumed his father's position as chairman of The Lego Foundation, which owns 25 percent of the toymaker.

Lego sold its 70 percent economic interest in its theme park business to private equity firm Blackstone in 2005, according to a July 13, 2005 Bloomberg News report. Kirkbi took an intial 15 percent stake in the newly formed Merlin Entertainments Group, which was increased to 36 percent in 2010. The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in November 2013. Kirkbi retains a 30 percent stake.

The billionaire, who remains chairman of Kirkbi, is married with three children and lives in Denmark.

  • 1971 Finishes undergraduate studies at Denmark's Aarhus University.
  • 1972 Completes MBA at the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • 1978 Lego mini-figures appear for first time and are best sellers.
  • 1996 Named chairman of Kirkbi, the holding company for his investments.
  • 1999 Lego brick named "Toy of the Century" by Fortune magazine.
  • 2004 Steps aside as CEO and president as loss of $330 million announced.
  • 2005 Private equity firm buys Lego's theme parks for $457 million.
  • 2011 Rearranges family stakes, leaving himself holding 51 percent of Lego.