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Flatpacks forever: Ikea billionaire's fortune falls to no one after his death

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When Ikea's Ingvar Kamprad died last Saturday at age 91, he was ranked No. 8 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index,  thanks to his control of a global retail fortune valued at $U58.7 billion ($73.8 billion).

His wealth will now be dissipated because of a unique structure put in place by Kamprad to secure the long-term independence and survival of the Ikea concept.

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IKEA's Swedish founder dies aged 91

Billionaire IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has died at the age of 91, the Swedish company said on Sunday.

Kamprad had always disputed his status as one of the richest men on the planet, having decades earlier placed control of the world's largest furniture seller into a network of foundations and holding companies.

His heirs now won't have direct control of the firm. Instead, they will have a more meagre fortune derived from family-owned Ikano Group, a collection of finance, real estate, manufacturing and retail businesses which had total assets of about $US10 billion in 2016.

Most Ikea stores are owned by the Stichting Ingka Foundation, a Dutch entity with the stated purpose of donating to charity and "supporting innovation" in design, according to its founding statute.

The structure, which Kamprad established in the 1980s, assures that the Almhult, Sweden-based company stays outside the family's direct control.


'Not interested in money'

The company's trademarks, brand and concept were placed under the ultimate control of Vaduz, Liechtenstein-based Interogo Foundation whose subsidiary, Inter Ikea, is the global Ikea franchisor.

"Interogo Foundation is managed by a Foundation Council (Stiftungsrat) consisting of at least two members and a Supervisory Council (Beirat), as a principle consisting of seven members," Anders Bylund, Interogo's head of communications wrote in an email on January 29. "The Kamprad family members in the Supervisory Councils have been and shall always be in minority."

Though called a foundation, the mission of the Stichting Ingka is only partly philanthropic. Its statutes also allow for profits to be reinvested in the company, according to Per Heggenes, the chief executive of the Ikea Foundation.

The foundation owns itself, so no Kamprad family members hold shares.

The structure was designed to ensure Ikea, in its present form, would long outlive its founder.

Trust experts say the set-up emphasises continuity by making it impossible for an individual, whether a manager or heir, to assume control after Kamprad's death.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index attributed the fortune to Kamprad in recognition of his role as founder with control over the entire structure.

Kamprad was "not interested in money," Heggenes told Bloomberg in 2012. "That is clear from the way he structured the ownership."