Switzerland’s 300 richest people lose $10 billion in 2009; still have $449 billion in the bank

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Switzerland’s 300 richest lose $10 billion in 2009

ZURICH — Switzerland’s 300 richest individuals and families lost a total of $10 billion this year as the global economic crisis soured businesses and weakened investment portfolios.

They still had $449 billion in wealth to draw on, according to a report published Friday.

The Swiss business magazine Bilanz said the losses were much less severe than in 2008, when world markets were hard hit by financial instability.

Low, lump-sum tax rates in Switzerland helped many of the ultra-rich, who also benefited as economic conditions stabilized.

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad was the richest person in Switzerland for the eighth straight year, with an estimated wealth of $35-36 billion, Bilanz said. It provided the same range as last year for the founder of the Swedish maker of affordable furniture.

The Hoffmann and Oeri families ranked second, with a combined wealth of $15-16 billion from their stake in drug maker Roche Holding AG. That’s $1 billion less than 2008.

They were followed by the Brenninkmeijer family, who founded textile company C&A, and Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli, who sold the biotech company Serono to Merck KGaA three years ago. Estimates put both their fortunes at $10-11 billion.

Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg rounded out the top 5 with a fortune of $8-9 billion.

Vekselberg and the Latsis shipping family both lost $3 billion from 2008.

Formula-1 chief Bernie Ecclestone lost a third of his wealth in a divorce settlement, and now has $3-4 billion, according to Bilanz.

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