Ivar Kreuger , born the March 2nd 1880 with Kalmar in the County of Kalmar and dead the March 12th 1932 with Paris, was a business man Swedish. He was one of the European industrialists most influential of the Entre-deux-guerres, thanks to his production activities of Allumette S. He was known like the “king of the matches”, having succeeded in obtaining a Monopole on this product.
BeginningsOldest son of the banker, industrialist and consul of Russia Ernst August Kreuger and of his wife Jenny, Ivar is an excellent pupil who jumps two classes before continuing his studies with the royal institute of technology to Stockholm, where it obtains at 20 years two diplomas for the occupation of civil engineer and mechanics.
He spends seven years then to travel, exerting the trade of engineer in several countries, of which the Mexico, the South Africa and the the United States, where he discovers the use of the Reinforced concrete in the construction industry. Of return in Sweden, it founds in 1908 the company of BTP Kreuger & Toll with his fellow student Paul Toll. They meet a great success with prestigious contracts for the construction in particular of the Olympic stadium of Stockholm or the department store Nordiska Kompaniet.
The Kreuger empireIn 1917, Kreuger founds Svenska Tändsticks AB (now Swedish Match) which, by the acquisition of national monopolies, becomes the most important producer of matches in the world, with nearly two thirds of the market. At the time where the Europe suffers from the consequences of the Grande depression, the companies of Kreuger grant loans to various European governments in exchange of a monopoly on the matches in all the country. A loan of 28 million dollars to the Romania was not refunded before 2002.
In addition to the production of matches, Kreuger extends its influence on a great part of the forest industry of the north of Sweden and seeks to take the reins of a Cartel of the Cellulose.
After having founded the company of Pulp paper SCA in 1929, Kreuger acquires a majority stake in the telco Ericsson and the mining owner Boliden, as well as an important minority interest in manufacturing mechanical bearings SKF, the bank Skandinaviska Kreditaktiebolaget and many other companies.
It also takes the control of foreign companies, of which Deutsche Unionsbank in Germany and Union from Banks in Paris in France. In 1931, it controls approximately 200 companies. However, the stock exchange krash of 1929 is a major factor in the Crise of liquidity which will be fatal in Kreuger and its empire.
At its apogee, the fortune of Kreuger was estimated at 30 billion Swedish crowns, that is to say approximately 100 billion dollars in 2000.
The crashAs from 1931, rumors on the bad financial health of Kreuger & Toll and other companies of the empire of Kreuger start to run. Kreuger & Toll, whose action was very requested from Wall Street, are put in Faillite in 1932, and of the liquidities declared about 250 million dollars appear non-existent.
March 12th, 1932, Ivar Kreuger is found died on its bed in its apartment in Paris. The evidence makes think that it committed suicide using a firearm, but rumors or theories of the plot will suggest later that Kreuger was assassinated. Nevertheless, its death precipitated the fall of its empire, which touched hard its companies and the investors.
Little before the crash, Kreuger had emitted thousands of obligations which were very popular in Sweden. Many households there had invested their economies and lost a whole life of economies at the time of the crash of the Kreuger empire.
Ivar Kreuger rests with the cemetery of Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm.
FictionsIvar Kreuger inspired different fictions, of which the part of Ayn Rand Night off January 16th which had a great success in Broadway in 1935, as well as the film The Match King put in scene in 1933 by William Keighley, and interpreted by Warren William and Lili Damita.
AnecdotesIvar Kreuger invented of all parts a superstition which was supposed to exist among the soldiers of the First World War. It was supposed to take source in the fact that to divide the same match between three soltats led to dead one of the three, by leaving time to an enemy soldier to notice the gleam when the first lit its Cigarette, to aim when the second lit his and finally to draw when the third held the match.
On the basis of this alleged superstition, the fact of dividing a match between three people became synonymous with bad luck. Actually, it was Ivar Kreuger which invented this superstition ten years after the end of the war in order to encourage the consumers to use more matches.
SourcesThis article is based on the English article: .
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