Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by Oddmund Groette
Swedish entrepreneurs have a long history of being good stewards of capital. Because of this, we believe Swedish investment companies offer great opportunities for returns better than the averages, of course depending on the management. Some companies have performed much better than others.
This article lists the most popular investment companies and compares their strategy, ownership structure, past performance, and their holdings.
To read more about investment companies we recommend to check out our other articles about investment companies.
In the very near future, we will add a portfolio of Nordic investment companies, which you can find on our portfolio page.
We start with Latour:
Latour AB (LATO-B):
The founder, Gustaf Douglas, was born in 1938 and is thus 82 years old. He is a Swedish aristocrat, partially of Scottish patriline. Mr. Douglas made himself a name as an editor of two of Sweden’s biggest newspapers, Dagens Nyheter and Expressen. He quit journalism in 1980 and later in 1984 he founded his own investment company Latour which turned out to be a great success.
The Douglas family owns 77.8% of the equity and controls 80.3% via voting rights. In other words, they are in complete control of the company. If you buy shares in Latour, it means you put your trust in the Douglas family. Two of Douglas’ sons are on the board: Carl and Eric.
Latour is a long-term owner and thinks like an owner. 73% of the total net asset value comes from companies that have been in the portfolio for more than 20 years. It’s an investment company and thus the headcount at the HQ is very modest: only 12 employees, indicating a very hands-off management style. Thus, the “management fee” is a low 0.1% of the market cap. Compare that to an active mutual fund that charges at least 0.8%!
Latour has grown to become a rather big company: the market cap is currently 140 bn SEK.
Latour was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange back in 1985 and since then has witnessed a spectacular growth: 160 000%, according to the annual report of 2019, with dividends reinvested. This compares to 6 200% for the Swedish Total Return Index (SIXRX):
The fantastic performance of the shares is of course a result of the NAV growth: 18% annual growth since the end of 2008.
Latour has three segments: Wholly-owned operations, an investment portfolio, and part-owned holdings.
Wholly owned (28.8% of NAV):
- Caljan (logistics)
- Hultafors Group (workwear)
- Latour Industries (six wholly-owned holdings)
- Nord-Lock Group (secure bolting solutions)
- Swegon (ventilation, indoor climate)
Part owned (0.1% of NAV):
Investment portfolio (65.6% of NAV):
- Alimak Group (industrial equipment)
- Assa Abloy (locks and security)
- Fagerhult (lighting systems)
- HMS Networks (IT, IoT)
- Nederman (industrial machinery)
- Securitas (home and business security)
- Sweco (engineering consulting)
- Tomra (Waste management)
- Troax (industrial machinery)
Leverage is set to 10% of the investment portfolio’s value and at 2.5 times the wholly-owned industrial operations’ EBITDA.
Öresund is originally a very old company dating back to 1890 as an insurance company. However, with time it has changed and evolved, and in 1962 it was spun off from Skandia and given the name Investment AB Öresund and floated on Stockholm Stock Exchange. In 1993 it was taken over by Sven Hagströmer and Mats Qviberg, the latter being a bit of a controversial figure in Swedish media, but a terrific businessman. The company was split in two in 2012: Öresund and Creades (see more below).
Currently, Qviberg owns 23.2% of Öresund, while his two sons own an additional 6%.
Öresund has not had the same spectacular performance as Latour, however still a good performance. The NAV has compounded at 9.8% since 1994, while the share price has compounded at 15% since 2005 with dividend reinvested. The Swedish Total Return Index, SIX, has managed 1 700% since 1994, while Öresund’s share price has risen 6 000.
Öresund’s overall goal as an investment company is to run its business in such a way as to generate a healthy long-term return for its shareholders. The strategy to achieve this goal is to:
• Invest mainly in Nordic securities
• Maintain a high equity ratio
• Have low management costs
• Have a flexible liquidity policy
Öresund’s biggest holdings in descending order were at year’s end 2019 like this (all public companies):
- Bilia (8.7% of the company)
- Scandi Standard (15.3%)
- Fabege (1.2)
- SEB (0.2)
- Attendo (3.8)
- Storebrand (1%)
- Ovzon (14.9)
- Insr Insurance Group (24.9)
- Bahnhof (9.3)
- NRC Group (7.4)
- Bulten (13.8)
- Catena Media (8.9)
- Ework Group
The portfolio was valued at around 5.5 billion SEK at the end of 2019. Since then Öresund has acquired a position in the Finnish company Musti Group. The range of industries is wide, and Qviberg is an investment agnostic. Wherever they see an opportunity, they evaluate the risk and reward no matter the industry. They seek both investments where they own significant ownership to actively manage their holding, and they just as well have passive holdings where they can’t influence. However, the time horizon can be both long and short, while the majority is of long-term nature.
Industrivärden (INDU C)
In English Industrivärden means something like “industrial values”, supposedly to reflect the significant values in the companies that were transferred from Svenska Handelsbanken. Indsutrivärden was established in 1944 (floated in 1945) and has a market cap of 120 bn SEK.
Both Investor AB and Industrivärden have two things in common: they are both old and they were put up as an investment vehicle for the same reasons. Legislation in Sweden limited the banks’ ability to own stocks and equity, and thus Stockholms Enskilda Bank’s (SEB) holdings were transferred to Investor AB, and Svenska Handelsbanken’s to Industrivärden. Thus, shareholders in Handelsbanken became owners of eight different companies through this new investment vehicle. The only two holdings that still are in Industrivärden since 1944 are Handelsbanken itself and Ericsson.
The common theme in its holdings has been industrial companies, however, operations have changed and adapted gradually. The portfolio is pretty concentrated, just like most investment companies. Industrivärden aims for active and long-term management of their holdings.
Industrivärden has compounded at 9.8% annually since 2001 with dividends reinvested. Industrivärden is a juggernaut and needs some special energy to move the needle significantly. Unfortunately for the investors, the stock has underperfomed the Swedish Total Return Index over the last three years, while outperforming the index over the last ten years:
The biggest holdings are public companies and all of them based in the Nordics:
- Volvo, 24%
- Sandvik, 23%
- Essity, 17%
- Handelsbanken, 13%
- Ericsson, 8%
- SCA, 8%
- Skanska, 5%
- SSAB, 1%
The portfolio is valued at 118bn at the end of September 2020.
Investor AB (INVE B)
Please read our separate article about Investor AB:
Kinnevik (KINV B)
Kinnevik is the investment vehicle of the Stenbeck family. It was founded in 1936 by Robert von Horn, Wilhelm Klingspor and Hugo Stenbeck, and is currently an active and long-term investor and owner of media and digital businesses. Over the years Hugo Stenbeck gradually increased his stake in the business, and the family controls over 20% of the voting rights. The market cap is 115 bn SEK.
Since 2001 the share price has compounded at 12.8%, substantially better than the Swedish Total Return Index (SIX).
Kinnevik doesn’t reveal its “management cost”, but it’s a lot lower than any active mutual fund.
While Industrivärden and Investor AB are more geared towards industry, Kinnevik invests mainly in digital businesses. Their slogan is we build digital businesses. The main focus is the Nordics and the US. It was not until the 1980s they made their first investment into media and technology.
Kinnevik currently holds significant stakes in about 30 companies in four digital sectors: Consumer Services, TMT, Financial Services, and Healthcare Services. The NAV is at the end of Q3 2020 at 107 bn SEK, meaning it’s trading at a slight premium to NAV.
As normal for such companies they have a pretty concentrated portfolio, despite having more than 25 holdings:
Ratos (RATO B)
Ratos is an abbreviation for the names of the founders: for Ragnar and Torsten Söderberg. It’s an old company, founded in 1933, and floated on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1954.
Today it’s still controlled by the Söderberg family who owns about 19% of the equity.
Ratos is a private equity company focusing on mid-sized companies in the Nordics. Ratos offers network, knowledge, and experience. Compared to for example Latour, Ratos has a much shorter time frame on their investments. By looking at the annual reports over the last years the turnover has been pretty significant.
The market cap is 12 bn SEK.
The share price has suffered since the GFC in 2008/09:
The performance since 2001 is a mediocre 3% annual return, obviously a lot worse than the Swedish Total Return Index (SIX).
Ratos is a business group consisting of 12 companies:
- Aibel (energy service, 32% stake)
- Airteam (ventilation, 70% stake)
- HENT (Norwegian building contractor, 73% stake)
- Speed (logistics, 70% stake)
- Bisnode (data analysis, 70% stake)
- KVD (online marketplace for used cars, 100% stake )
- Oase (supplier of camping and outdoor equipment, 78% stake)
- Plantasjen (retailer for gardening and plants, 99% stake)
- Diab (composite materials, 96% stake)
- HL (retail, 99% stake)
- Ledil (optics supplier, 66% stake)
- TFS (healthcare, 100% stake)
It’s a pretty diverse group and as a private equity firm, none of the holdings are public.
Lundbergforetagen (LUND B)
The company was founded in 1944 by Lars Erik Lundberg in Norrköping. Initially, Mr. Lundberg focused on the construction of residential buildings, but later expanded to office and department store buildings. Being a shrewd businessman, Lundberg early on understood the benefits of adding a second business: real estate management. This way he created Lundberg’s Fastigheter, still a major part of the holdings.
At the end of the 70s and early 80s, the company diversified into many other businesses, while still being a private company. In 1983 it became a public company. At the end of the 80s, many of the assets not regarded as a core business (construction and real estate operations) would be sold or spun-off. Alfa-Laval was among those sold. To this day Lundbergforetagen is mainly regarded as a real estate company, but it has a substantial ownership in industrial companies as well. The market cap is 110 bn SEK.
The Lundberg family owns and controls the company: 70.3% of the equity and 93.4% of the voting rights.
The “management fee” is a tiny 0.09%.
The share has compounded at 13.75% since 2001, substantially better than the Swedish Total Return Index (SIX):
Originally a real estate company, it has expanded into other industries. The main holdings are concentrated to just nine major holdings (and the five major holdings are valued at 82% of the assets):
- Holmen, 19.6%
- Industrivärden, 19.2%
- Lundbergs Fastigheter, 16.3%
- Indutrade, 14.2%
- Hufvudstaden, 12.4%
- Husquarna, 3.7%
- Handelsbanken, 4.4%
- Sandvik, 5.3%
- Skanska, 4.2%
- Other, 0.7%
Svolder (SVOL B)
Svolder primarily invests in listed/public small and medium-sized Swedish companies. Despite being founded as early as 1993, its market cap is still a tiny 4.5 bn SEK.
The Swedish entrepreneur Rolf Lundström is the main shareholder with 7.7% of the equity and 26.8% of the voting rights.
Only five people are in the management, thus a negligible “management fee”.
Swedish small-caps is a niche that has performed well over time and generated higher returns than US small-caps.
Since 2001 Svolder has compounded at 9.3%, more or less in line with the Swedish Total Return Index (SIX), but better than any other Swedish small-cap funds:
The most recent portfolio holdings look like this:
This is a much more concentrated portfolio than any other mutual fund: The three biggest positions are 52% of the fund.
Bure Equity (BURE)
Bure was established in 1992 and was listed on Nasdaq Stockholm in 1993. The aim is to own a very concentrated portfolio of both private and public companies and develop them through active management. All holdings are in the small-cap segment.
The investment team consists of 6 managers who manage a portfolio valued at around 20 bn SEK.
The two biggest shareholders are Patrick Tigerschiöld and the Björkman family, with 10.4% and 8.2% of the equity (and votes).
The performance has been weak since 2001, but that is mainly due to the crisis of 2000-2003 which hit Bure’s share price very hard:
Since the bottom in 2004, the CAGR is a more respectable 19.7%, beating the relevant indices by a wide margin.
The current listed holdings are these:
- Cavotec (36.2% stake, 4% of Bure’s assets)
- MedCap (20% stake, 4% of Bure’s assets)
- Mentice (15.1% stake, 1.8% of Bure’s assets)
- Mycronic (27.9% stake, 33.8% of Bure’s assets)
- Ovzon (11.3% stake, 2% of Bure’s assets)
- Vitrolife (19% stake, 29.6% of Bure’s assets)
- Xvivo Perfusion (15.1% stake, 6.9% of Bure’s assets)
- Atle Investment Management (93% stake, 0.6% of Bure’s assets)
- Bure Growth (100% stake, 7.1% of Bure’s assets)
- Investment AB Bure (100% stake, 1% of Bure’s assets)
- Mercuri International (90.4% stake, 0.7% of Bure’s assets)
As we can see, much of the assets are concentrated in just two assets, while overall the holdings are spread among many industries.
Traction (TRAC B)
AB Traction is a small investment company with a market cap of only 2.5 bn SEK. It was founded in 1974 by the entrepreneur and consultant Bengt Stillström. The Stillström family still owns about 70% of the company, and CEO Petter Stillström is the son of the founder.
They invest and manage ownership in both listed and unlisted companies, mainly in the small-cap segment. The management company consists of only four persons, thus a very low cost in relation to the market cap.
Traction describes their business model like this:
Traction is a major owner in a number of smaller and medium-sized listed companies. We invest in companies where we see a significant revaluation potential and where the risks are manageable. Other involvement in listed companies can be in the form of underwriting equity offerings in companies in need of new capital and where we see a potential for good returns. Traction has been an owner in some of the companies listed below before they became publicly listed and we participated actively in their respective processes of going public. Below listed companies refers to companies where Traction has an ownership stake exceeding 10 percent of the votes or where Traction has an active role as represented in the companies’ Board of Directors.
Since 2005 the share price has compounded at 8% annually, with dividends reinvested. Since 1997 a substantial amount has been either paid out as dividends or returned via buy backs.
- BE Group (steel and metals)
- Drillcon (Diamond driller)
- Driver Group (Construction consultancy)
- Hifab Group (Project management)
- Nilörngruppen (Branding consultancy)
- OEM International (Industrial components)
- Softronic (IT consultant)
- Ankarsrum Kitchen (Home appliances)
- Recco Holding (Rescue systems)
- Sigicom (Technical instruments)
- Duroc (Industrial businesses)
Lifco (LIFCO B)
Lifco has a history dating back to 1946 but has spent most of the time being bought and sold by various companies. It was listed on Nasdaq Stockholm in 2014.
The main shareholder is Carl Bennett AB which owns 50.1% of the equity and 68.9% of the voting rights. Carl Bennett AB is a private family business owned 100% by Carl Bennett. Carl Bennett AB also owns Arjo AB, Getinge AB, Elanders AB, Symbrio AB and Dragesholm AB.
The strategy is to acquire different small- and medium-sized niche businesses and manage them in a decentralized way. The investment horizon is infinite, thus they take a very long-term approach.
The market cap is 60 bn SEK.
Since its listing in 2014 the performance has been spectacular:
Lifco owns about 164 different companies that operate in over 30 countries, but most of them in Europe. The segments are divided into three segments: Dental, demolition & tools, and systems solutions.
Creades (CRED A)
Even though it’s a relatively young company, its history goes way back. Creades was a part of Öresund, but was spun-off in 2012 and subsequently listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Sven Hagströmer is the majority shareholder with 64.3% of the equity and 51.4% of the votes.
The business idea is to invest in small- and mid-cap companies in the Nordic region, both via active and passive ownership.
The management consists of six people, thus securing very low overheads.
The share price has compounded at 23% since early 2012:
Public companies, 56% of NAV:
- Avanza (online broker in financial instruments, 33% of NAV)
- Aktiv forvaltning i kapitalförsäkring
Private companies, 26% of NAV:
- PRNT Printing Solutions
Smaller holdings and cash was 18% at year’s end 2019.
EQT was established in 1994 and has demonstrated a track-record of attractive and consistent performance. The business idea is to both invest in equity via private capital and real assets. This strategy is a bit similar to Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) led by Bruce Flatt.
EQT is a private equity company, and thus invests mainly in unlisted companies, but has some investments in public companies as well. Currently, they have 16 active funds which combined have invested in 141 different companies, in total about 50 billion SEK in assets under management.
Investor AB has been a shareholder in EQT since its inception and currently owns 18.3%. The founders and employees own a substantial part of the company.
EQT was listed as recently as 2019 and the track record is short. However, if we look at the underlying businesses, their website claims they have managed to grow annual revenue of 10%, EBITDA growth of 12% and the number of employees by 7% (in their underlying companies) over the last ten years.
Disclosure: We are not financial advisors. Please do your own due diligence and investment research or consult a financial professional. All articles are our opinion – they are not suggestions to buy or sell any securities.