Jun 28, 2013

    Ikea billionaire to return to Sweden after 40 years

    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.

    Mr Kamprad's US$51.7-billion (S$66-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 of Sweden for Switzerland in 1973 in an effort to keep Ikea closely held, something he said he could not do with the tax regime in Sweden at the time, according to foundation spokesman Per Heggenes.

    "Moving back to Sweden gets me closer to my family and my old friends," Mr Kamprad said in a statement to Radio Sweden and newspapers in the country.

    "After my dear wife, Margaretha, died about 11/2 years ago, there was (not much) keeping me in Switzerland."

    Ikano Group, the Kamprad family's investment vehicle, manages four Ikea franchises, a credit-card business and real-estate investments.

    Mr Heggenes told Radio Sweden: "(Mr Kamprad) will pay taxes on his earnings, just like all other Swedes. But the move home has no other tax-related consequences."

    Mr Kamprad is US$1.5 billion ahead of Mr Amancio Ortega, Spain's richest man. The 77-year-old owns 59 per cent of Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer and parent company of clothing line Zara.