Surging shares turn Swedish sisters into billionaires

Ms Lindh (right) and her sister Ms Martinson saw their stakes in Lundbergs almost double to 14 per cent each, after their father transferred some of his holdings.
Ms Lindh (left) and her sister Ms Martinson saw their stakes in Lundbergs almost double to 14 per cent each, after their father transferred some of his holdings.

Stocks of family's investment firm hit record high, partly on Stockholm's rising real estate values

STOCKHOLM • The two daughters of Swedish industrialist Fredrik Lundberg have become billionaires as shares of the family's investment company climbed to a record high.

Ms Louise Lindh, 36, and Ms Katarina Martinson, 35, each own a 14 per cent economic interest in publicly traded Lundbergfoeretagen or Lundbergs, according to the company's 2015 annual report.

Shares of the business have risen 28 per cent in the past 12 months and matched their all-time high of 517.5 Swedish kronor (S$82) on Thursday.

The stock is in part benefiting from a rise in real estate values in Stockholm, where apartment prices have climbed 24 per cent in the past year, according to researcher Real Capital Analytics.

Property made up about 40 per cent of the company's 59 billion kronor of market-valued assets at the end of May. A scarcity of publicly available shares - the family controls 70 per cent of the capital and more than 90 per cent of the voting stock - is amplifying the price gains, according to analyst Gustav Oesterberg at Pareto Securities.

The siblings' ownership increased from 7.6 per cent at the start of last year after their father almost doubled their stakes in the family business by transferring some of his holdings.

The value of those shares, along with dividends and interests in other publicly traded assets, has given each of the sisters a US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The family declined to comment on their wealth, according to spokesman Roger Ekstrom.

About four-fifths of the company's net asset value comes from listed stocks, including property business Hufvudstaden, which manages commercial and residential properties mainly in Stockholm, and Holmen, which owns forest land it uses to produce paper products. Unlisted real estate arm Fastighets AB L.E. Lundberg makes up the remainder.

Lundbergs was founded by the sisters' grandfather Lars Erik Lundberg, an engineer who in 1944 started his own construction firm focused on developing residential buildings.

His son Fredrik took over in the 1980s and managed its diversification into other industries, including banks and manufacturer Alfa Laval.

It began trading on the Stockholm exchange in 1983.

The sisters disclosed 6.8 per cent stakes in the business in 2001, following the death of their grandfather. Ms Lindh, who trained as an accountant, joined Fastighets AB L.E. Lundberg in 2005 as an assistant to its chief executive officer, Mr Peter Whass. She became executive vice-president two years later and joined the board in 2010.

Ms Martinson has been a director since 2009.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Surging shares turn Swedish sisters into billionaires'. Print Edition | Subscribe