The early years
Investor was established by the Wallenberg family in Stockholm in 1916, when new Swedish legislation made it more difficult for banks to own stocks in industrial companies on a long-term basis. The shareholdings of the family bank, Stockholms Enskilda Bank (our core investment SEB today), were transferred to Investor AB, a newly formed industrial holding company spun out of the bank.
The establishment of our company coincides with the date for Investor's first Annual General Meeting, held October 16, 1916, after which holdings in the portfolio consisted mainly of shares in SEB and Atlas Diesel (Atlas Copco today), all overtaken from the bank. These companies remain in Investor's core investments portfolio today, 100 years later.
In 1916, Europe was a war zone turning commodities into scarce goods and pushing inflation to the highest level ever. Like every player on the market, Investor had to struggle through the beginning of the 1920s with dividends payments suspended for seven years and with considerations of selling several major stockholdings.
When the economy turned and finances stabilized, several holdings were sold at the same time as Investor established long-term interests in Separator (Alfa-Laval today), ASEA, Stora Kopparberg, Kopparberg-Hofors and Wifstavarf. At the time, the Wallenberg sphere reinforced a tradition to push for consolidation and maintain a high level of equity.
Astra and Stora Kopparberg add pharma and forestry to portfolio
In 1924, Investor bought Astra (AstraZeneca today) for SEK 1. The Wallenberg sphere also increased its ownership in ASEA and Stora Kopparberg.
In the beginning of 1929, the Wallenberg sphere owned 36,500 shares in Stora Kopparberg and the Kreuger sphere 39,000 shares. When Marcus Wallenberg Sr. and Ivar Kreuger discussed the situation, MW Sr. made this statement about the companies: "I regard them as my children and I would be reluctant to see them in another's hands". The situation was solved some years later when they managed to settle their disagreements.