Case Investor – Active role in the Board

Lisää taustaa ruotsalaisista käytännöistä liittyen käynnissä olevaan keskusteluun avustajan käyttämisestä hallitustyössä.  Artikkeli on julkaistu alun perin Boardview 3/2014 -lehdessä, ja sen on kirjoittanut Investor AB:n hallituksen silloinen varapuheenjohtaja Sune Carlsson.

Investor AB, founded 1916, is the largest listed industrial holding company in Northern Europe. Its net asset value amounts to about EUR 25 bn. Investor’s core investments are several large high quality companies such as SEB, Atlas Copco, ABB, Astra Zeneca, Ericsson, Electrolux and Wärtsilä. In recent years a number of majority owned companies have been added, namely Mölnlycke, Aleris and Permobil.

The Wallenberg family has an active involvement in Investor with Jacob Wallenberg being the Chairman. Investor has 130 000 shareholders with more than 30 % of the capital held by non-Swedish investors.

Business model

Investor’s business model is based on active ownership focusing on doing what is right for each company. Investor is a long-time owner of each company, i.e. it does not have an exit strategy.

Many core investments have been in the portfolio for decades. When core investments have been sold Investor has assessed that the company can develop better with another owner.


Investor works principally via the board of directors, making it critical for Investor to have a substantial shareholding so it can influence the composition and the work of the board. Investor’s wide network of experienced business leaders is vital when creating the best possible board in each company.

Investor’s representatives on the boards are supported by competent business teams within Investor’s organisation. The tasks of the teams are is to review strategy, performance and capital structure and to propose improvements and priorities based on research, benchmarking and best practises.

Long-term active owner

Having a long-term active owner is usually a major advantage provided the owner understands the business, has financial capacity and relevant competencies to add to the company. It allows the board and management of each company to focus on what is industrially right from a long-term perspective allowing them to take short-term unpopular decisions that can be long-term rewarding.

Investor has a comprehensive knowledge and experience of the businesses in its holdings. The tradition to stimulate and encourage innovation and new technology, penetration of new markets, management and organisation development as well as M&A activities clearly add to the positive development of its holdings.

Value growth

As Investor does not normally buy and sell companies,  most of its long-term value growth to its shareholders must come from the development of the existing holdings. Therefore, Investor puts strong focus on growth and profit opportunities and operational excellence in each portfolio company. The ambition is to develop and maintain best-in-class performance in every holding.

During the last 20 years Investor’s net assets growth including dividend added back, has averaged 14% annually. It is a good sign that the selected business model has been viable and successful. Creating long-term superior value for shareholders requires both a lot of experience and skill and also the ability to adapt the way of working to a fast changing global economy and uncertain political environment.


Sune Carlsson
Vice Chairman, Investor Ab


The article has originally been published in the Boardiew 3/2014 magazine.