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Swedish investment conglomerates


John Hjorth
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Within the last few years, this kind of investment has caught my attention.

 

It has caught my attention for tax reasons. In short, it's to me the almost perfect investment, with regard to taxes in Danish tax deferred acounts.

 

Naturally one has to build some kind of conviction about what these conglomerates are actually doing - right now, and going forward - expected. That's hard work and somehow cumbersome & dull.

 

What I have been trying to build lately is a list, containing:

 

The listed Swedish companies, with regard to taxation, subject to the Swedish tax rules of an "Investment företag" In English: "Investment undertaking"[link: here.]

 

The listed entities so far identified by me, subject to those quite special Swedish tax rules, are:

 

Investor AB [iNV A STO or INV B.STO]  Link.

L. E. Lundbergföretagen AB [Lund B.STO]  Link.

Industrivärden AB [ INDU A.STO or INDU C.STO] Link.

Investment AB Öresund [ORES.STO] Link.

Kinnevik AB [KINV A.STO or KINV B.STO] Link.

 

Somewhere, on some Swedish website, a few months ago, I read, that there would be about a docen of companies with this particular status with regard to taxes mentioned above.

 

Which companies are the rest, that I've been so far not able to identify?

 

Any help on this question would be much apreciated - especially from my fellow Swedish board members on here.

 

Thank you in advance for any input.

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Within the last few years, this kind of investment has caught my attention.

 

It has caught my attention for tax reasons. In short, it's to me the almost perfect investment, with regard to taxes in Danish tax deferred acounts.

 

Naturally one has to build some kind of conviction about what these conglomerates are actually doing - right now, and going forward - expected. That's hard work and somehow cumbersome & dull.

 

What I have been trying to build lately is a list, containing:

 

The listed Swedish companies, with regard to taxation, subject to the Swedish tax rules of an "Investment företag" In English: "Investment undertaking"[link: here.]

 

The listed entities so far identified by me, subject to those quite special Swedish tax rules, are:

 

Investor AB [iNV A STO or INV B.STO]  Link.

L. E. Lundbergföretagen AB [Lund B.STO]  Link.

Industrivärden AB [ INDU A.STO or INDU C.STO] Link.

Investment AB Öresund [ORES.STO] Link.

Kinnevik AB [KINV A.STO or KINV B.STO] Link.

 

Somewhere, on some Swedish website, a few months ago, I read, that there would be about a docen of companies with this particular status with regard to taxes mentioned above.

 

Which companies are the rest, that I've been so far not able to identify?

 

Any help on this question would be much apreciated - especially from my fellow Swedish board members on here.

 

Thank you in advance for any input.

 

John -

 

Can you explain the special tax rule in more detail? I used Google to translate the site, but the translation was difficult to understand.

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Scott,

 

These investment companies are in Sweden taxed, so that the company is basically not taxed, but the shareholders only, and instead, are taxed, to avoid double taxation.

 

The mechanics in the tax computation goes like this:

 

Basis for taxation for the company is a standardized income, which calculation basis is the market value of investments at the beginning of the year minus the value of what by Swedish tax law is defined as "business-related shares".

 

That calculation basis carries a standardized income of 1.5%. To that calculated standardized  income the company has to add dividends received from investments, and the investment company can deduct management cost [basically the most of the costs related to running the investment company, net financial expenses etc. [the most of these companies uses leverage to a modest extent], AND dividends paid out to shareholders.

 

The best way to get a feeling of the tax mechanism for such a Swedish company is to study the financials for Industrivärden AB. Just visit the website, switch to "English" by pressing that button on top of front page, grab the 2015 financials for the company, and study the tax note [note 8 on p. 45]. [industrivärden is in this respect "totally clean", because it has no wholly owned investments. The tax mechanism gets "burried" in the tax notes for the investment company, if there are wholly owned investments subject to joint taxation with the investment company, like in Investor AB and L. E. Lundbergföretagen AB.]

 

Industrivärden has made good money in recent years, despite that fact it has a tax loss to carry forward of SEK 7.054 B at the end of 2015.

 

So, in short, such a Swedish company can actually roll in and out of positions without incurring taxes on capital gains [and also not get deductions for losses on positions, if some investments goes south].

 

Such a Swedish company can actually hoard retained earnings much faster than a company not having this particular tax status, because it is not deferring taxes on unrealized capital gains on stock positions.

 

There are some conditions, that have to be fullfilled for a Swedish company to obtain this tax status:

 

1. The portfolio has to be fairly diversified.

2. The company has to have "many" shareholders.

3. The companys actual and real activity has to be almost exclusively management of securities.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

If there were such rules in place here in Denmark as part of the Danish tax regime, I would start out monday morning at 8:00 AM building such a damn thing, starting out with my own money, getting the tax status later by taking in OPM.

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If there were such rules in place here in Denmark as part of the Danish tax regime, I would start out monday morning at 8:00 AM building such a damn thing, starting out with my own money, getting the tax status later by taking in OPM.

 

If you want that just move? It's very close.

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Great question, wachtwoord,

 

After thinking a bit about it: The reasons are several, and the common denominator for them are: Lack of mental flexibility, most likely geriatric based. My tent pegs are just hammered in the Danish soil, so they are stuck. Too lazy, too comfortable.

 

Actually, I haven't moved my butt for more than 32 years now.

 

They also speak so strange over there. It would in one way actually be like moving home. My grandfather on my fathers side was Swedish, and moved to the small Danish island Bornholm in the Baltic Sea from Skåne while young. On Bornholm, they also speak weird, language close to Swedish, more Swedish-like than Danish-like. I get reminded about it every time the old man gets angry, excited or eager.

 

I would like to move south in retirement though - I hate Danish winters. The Lady of the House won't hear talk about all this. I call my self her AUM, when we have disagreements.

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Ratos

Creades

Bure

Latour

Svolder

Melker Schörling

Havsfrun

Traction

East Capital Explorer

Vostok New Ventures

Vostok Emerging Finance

 

There were more of them a couple of years ago, but there has been a push towards greater scale in order to get down the expense ratio and thus push down discount to NAV (Öresund is an activist in Svolder for this very reason). Also, some companies have just wound up because their discount to NAV was so consistently high. For a company on that list that can't really bear its costs of being a listed company, look at Havsfrun, which to my knowledge is the last one left of the "mini" investment companies. Maybe they will start popping up again somewhere down the line.

 

I would say the large opportunity in this space is largely over this time around. Almost none are at a large discount and some of them are even trading at sizable premiums at the moment. When you can copy most of their holdings much cheaper from a tax sheltered account and not give up flexibility, premiums are very hard to argue in favor of.

 

In some cases however you are buying companies with big unlisted holdings. The last three on the list are Russia focused companies, which makes available investments an ordinary private investor can't make. 

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Thanks for the large contribution to my list, alwaysinvert!, - it's very much appreciated.

 

Also thank you for your information and comments including your view on these kinds of investments at the moment. Actually, I'm having trouble valuing some of these companies and comparing them, because of different structures, generating different reporting structures caused by accounting conventions. [wholly owned investments vs. partly owned investments [listed/not listed].

 

I'm trying to make them comparable on some basic metrics and to decide on position size of each position of them in a basket, build the basket over some time, and then just basically sit on it long term, as a starting point [,meaning, always subject to that I may change my mind going forward, both with regard to basket size and individual position size].

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By the way, in addition to number of owners (there have precedent setting supreme court rulings that 80 was not enough but 740 was, the real threshold is unknown) you need to have either 10% voting power of listed companies or stocks in unlisted companies to qualify, while also being diversified. An investment company also needs to have holding stocks as its primary function, as opposed to trading (free translation from Swedish legalese). Whatever that means in actuality.

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Jurgis,

 

I had to look up the US tax concept of a PFIC. It seems hairy to me. For my part, this is not an issue to give attention. For me, these Swedish investment conglomerates - as long as they are corporations - get "ordinary Danish tax treament" [in both taxable and tax deferred acounts].

 

- - - o 0 o - - - -

 

By the way, in addition to number of owners (there have precedent setting supreme court rulings that 80 was not enough but 740 was, the real threshold is unknown) you need to have either 10% voting power of listed companies or stocks in unlisted companies to qualify, while also being diversified. An investment company also needs to have holding stocks as its primary function, as opposed to trading (free translation from Swedish legalese). Whatever that means in actuality.

 

alwaysinvert,

 

From your post I get the sense that the Swedish tax regime is like here in many respects: Overall rules with a lot of lacking specifics, and the practice actually just materialize over time - by litigation - by court decisions up through the court/complaint system. Certainly not pretty by any measure, and a very expensive way to establish a tax practice, the only parties involved in that getting satisfied are tax lawyers, getting paid dearly. Actually over time getting paid to establish a practice, in a legal battle with the Swedish IRS [called in Swedish: "Skatteverket"].

 

What's your basis for what you have written about the rule existing about holding at least 10 per cent of the votes on each investee? I can't see that mentioned in what I've linked to prior in this topic. - Perhaps something here just has skipped my attention.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

I'm already invested in Investor AB, L. E. Lundberg Företagen AB & Industrivärden AB - small positions, Investor AB beeing the largest, at about 3%. And yes, ref. alwaysinvert, there are similarities - to some extent, but when you dive into them, they are not - actually, not at all - similar.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

To me mentally, these positions are competing with SCHO.CPH inside the portfolios.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

I expect over time to open separate topics for each in the investment ideas forum, if I choose to invest in the thing on my list [or already invested in it], otherwise I will just post my findings & conclusions - in short - max. 10 - 15 lines - in this topic.

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What's your basis for what you have written about the rule existing about holding at least 10 per cent of the votes on each investee? I can't see that mentioned in what I've linked to prior in this topic. - Perhaps something here just has skipped my attention.

 

My mistake, the 10% threshold, or any size unlisted, is for tax free dividends and no capital gains if you are not an investment company (näringsbetingade andelar). Some "investment companies" are not actual investment companies in legal terms because they are more focused in 10%+ stakes and/or unlisted companies and thus are more tax efficient without the investment company classification. An example of that is Creades, if this has not changed recently.

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alwaysinvert,

 

Based on what you wrote earlier in this topic about the 10 per cent treshold I have tried to follow all links in the tax guidance from Skatteverket to see if I could find anything about it. I was without luck.

 

But I did find this in Annual Report 2015 for Industrivärden AB on p. 53:

 

...  that capital gains on sales of stocks are tax exempt, but in return, a standardized level of income, which amounts to 1.5% of the market value of the equities portfolio at the start of the fiscal year, is taxed. The basis for calculating the standardized level of income does not include businessrelated shares, by which is meant unlisted shares as well as listed shares in which the holding corresponds to at least 10% of the number of votes. In order for listed business-related shares to be excluded from the standardized income calculation, they must have been held for at least one year.

 

I suppose the written there is correct, despite I can't find it in the tax guidance from Skatteverket. So I suppose there is a difference in the tax treatment of investees with regard to standardized income, based on at least 10 per cent voting power in the investee or not.

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Fun thread! ...

 

Thanks, NewbieD!,

 

Yes, it's fun to investigate, but somehow also very cumbersome, and time consuming.

 

Somehow, these Swedish tax regulations in this area for investments undertakings - at least to me - seem to be very attractive. For me and my family, as far as I know - so far -, there is no Danish way to circumvent/defer capital gain taxes on realized stock gains, except by doing this kind of investment, if you're not buing to hold forever.

 

What I'm actually thinking about here, is: "If I bought a basket - so to say - "directly" - to "mirror" i.e. Industrivärden AB portfolio, what would the taxes be on such an arrangement, going forward - long term? [Even without the HQ overhead].

 

My own life expectancy is 23.59 years.

The life expectancy of the Lady of the House is 21.53 years.

 

For me, there is no way directly to compete with this tax arrangement - measured after tax - by i.e. Industrivärden AB or Investor AB - doing their investment moves, without incurring the capital gain taxes, unless I think I can do much better by doing the investments directly.

 

I do not live in some kind of delusion, that I'm better at this - long term - than i.e. the Wallenbergs or Fredrik Lundberg.

 

So, it's - for me - all about trying to weed out - and finding the good ones - among the Swedish investment companies subject to these particular rules.

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