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Booming economy helps rich get richer

The super rich in Switzerland are becoming richer and their assets now total a record SFr455 billion ($380.3 billion), according to a Swiss economics magazine.

The flourishing economy, high stock market levels, rising real estate prices and the boom in the art market have pushed up the wealth of Switzerland's 300 richest individuals and families by SFr55 billion compared with last year.

According to the Bilanz magazine, the super rich own on average SFr1.517 billion each.

But it notes that the ten richest in the rankings account for SFr123 billion, which is about a quarter of all the assets owned by the 300.

The richest of the rich continues to be the Swedish furniture magnate Ingvar Kamprad. The king of build-it-yourself furniture managed to nail another SFr5 billion onto his assets, which now stand at an estimated SFr25-26 billion.

Industrial dynasty

The Hoffmann and Oeri families, thanks to their majority holding in the Roche pharmaceutical company, recorded a similar growth amount. The Basel industrial dynasty has assets of SFr20-21 billion, putting them in second place.

New in Switzerland and making it straight to third place is a Russian, Viktor Vekselberg. With a fortune of SFr14-15 billion, Vekselberg made a name for himself in Switzerland by showing his valuable collection of Fabergé eggs at an exhibition in Zurich.

There are 14 new names on the list of the 300 richest in Switzerland this year, one of them who is making a comeback – Martin Ebner.

As a banker who once had assets of SFr4.5 billion before heavy stock market falls, Ebner – now an investor – has returned to the ranks with a fortune of SFr400-500 million.

No longer on the list is Gernot Langes-Swarovski, who has moved to Austria near the Swarovski crystal glass concern, taking his fortune of SFr300-400 million with him.

Decline

The largest decline in assets this year is recorded by Prakash Hinduja, who possesses SFr2.75 billion less than a year ago. But the decline is not on account of losses but because the fortune was divided among family members.

According to the survey, managers in Switzerland are also profiting from the economic situation, with 13 listed with total assets of SFr4.2 billion.

The most prominent and a new entry is Oswald Grübel, chief executive of Switzerland's second-largest bank Credit Suisse, with assets of SFr100-200 million.

Also featured is Tom O'Malley, head of the Petroplus refinery group that has just been listed on the Swiss stock exchange. His assets are estimated at SFr1-1.5 billion.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Bilanz magazine features the 300 richest individuals and families living in Switzerland, both Swiss and non-Swiss.
Other notables include racing driver Michael Schumacher, the Latsis family and the Bertarelli family, which has just sold biotechnology company Serono.
Their assets have reached a record SFr455 billion, as much as Switzerland's Gross Domestic Product in 2005.
Ten of the 300 account for about a quarter of the total (SFr123 billion)

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Viktor Vekselberg

In February 2004 the Russian businessman acquired the private Fabergé collection from the American billionaire Forbes family, shortly before it was to be auctioned off at Sotheby's.

He paid about $100 million (SFr83.58 million) for more than 200 Fabergé valuables, including nine Imperial Easter eggs.

They are now in The Link of Times Cultural and Historical Foundation.

Some of the collection was shown at an exhibition in Zurich earlier this year.

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