Some of Switzerland’s super-rich feel COVID-19 crunch – report

Agence France-Presse

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Some of Switzerland’s super-rich feel COVID-19 crunch – report

SWISS FLAG. A picture taken on July 31, 2020, near Schwagalp, Switzerland, shows a 6,400-square-meter Swiss flag hanging on the rock face of mountain Saentis on the eve of Swiss national day.

Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Many large fortunes in Switzerland remain stable or grow in 2020, but some clearly feel the pain of coronavirus measures

Switzerland’s ultra-wealthy have as a group weathered the coronavirus crisis with ease, but for those who owe their fortunes to hard-hit sectors, the pandemic has taken a dire toll, a report showed on Friday, November 27.

In its annual analysis of the fortunes of Switzerland’s 300 richest people, the Bilan magazine said the exclusive club, including the likes of rock and soul legend Tina Turner, had maintained their combined fortunes at 646 billion Swiss francs ($712 billion, 597 billion euros) – basically the same as at the end of 2019.

The list, which this year added British pop star Robbie Williams after he relocated to the wealthy Alpine country, showed that many large fortunes remained stable or grew in 2020.

However, some sectors have clearly felt the pain of repeated lockdowns and other measures aimed to rein in COVID-19.

Minus 7 billion

At 4th place in the Bilan ranking, the Brazilian Jorge Lemann, who owns 10% of brewing giant inBev, for instance saw his fortune shrink by 7 billion Swiss francs, to a mere 15 billion.

Belgian national Alexandre Van Damme, who holds a 7.7% stake in the same brewer, meanwhile saw his fortune shed 5 billion francs over the year.

That left him with 6 billion, and a 25th-place ranking among Switzerland’s wealthiest.

He shares that ranking with the family of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, which suffered the biggest loss over the year as it saw its fortune dwindle by a full 11 billion francs.

But that drop was not linked to the Swedish flat-pack furniture giant’s results, but rather to the fact that prior to his death in 2018, Kamprad set up a trust for the company, removing his children’s control over the Liechtenstein-based foundation that owns the brand.

The top 3 in the Swiss fortunes ranking meanwhile remained unchanged.

First place went to the Hoffmann-Oeri family behind the Roche pharmaceutical giant, which has been deeply involved in developing COVID-19 diagnostic tests and treatments.

They saw their fortune swell by two billion francs from 2019 to 29 billion, the report showed.

Frenchman Gerard Wertheimer, who owns a large chunk of Chanel, and the Brazilian Safra family, who made their fortune in finance, took joint second place, with 22 billion francs each.

The Swiss Blocher family, behind the Ems-Chemie chemicals company, meanwhile saw the biggest boost over the year, adding 4 billion francs to their fortune to 15 billion, landing them on the third rung of the ranking.

New arrivals

Eighteen new names were added to the list this year, including 6 new billionaires, among them new Swiss resident Mortimer Sackler Jr, of the Sackler family behind United States drugmaker Perdue Pharma.

The company and family agreed last month to pay massive fines and damages over its intense drive to push sales of the prescription opioid OxyContin, which stoked a US addiction crisis, but Sackler’s fortune still ticked in at 12 billion francs, putting him 14th in the rankings.

Another new addition was singer Williams, who recently moved to a wealthy Geneva suburb with his wife and 4 young children.

With around 300 million Swiss francs to his name, the former member of English boy band Take That stands at 234th place, according to Bilan.

He is thus slightly ahead of Tina Turner, who has lived in Switzerland for years and has taken Swiss citizenship, and whose fortune remained stable over the past year at around 200 million francs. –

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