There exists an inherited cultural competition between Sweden and Denmark. Like two angry children in the back of a car, the two have been fighting for centuries.

Between 1521 and 1814 there have been eleven Dano-Swedish wars. Of course things are more slappe af in 2024 but there is a residual grudge whenever the two have to talk about one another.

With this in mind, I’ve always found it surprising that there is IKEA in Denmark. It’s more popular than the Danish version, Jysk.

It’s big, yellow, blue and serves svenska köttbullar. Quite what it’s doing in the centre of five major Danish cities is rather confusing.

It was started in 1943 by frugal Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad and the company moved quickly from mail-order furniture to a physical shop (Småland, 1958), to an expansion into Scandinavia and beyond.

Today there are 482 IKEA stores in 63 countries and in 2018 they sold €38.8 billion of goods. In November 2021, IKEA opened its largest store in the world, measuring 65,000m² square in the Philippines. Things are going well.

Here’s the plot twist, IKEA might not be quite as svenska as you svspected. It isn’t all köttbullar and sveriges flagga, there’s a lot of tax evasion which takes IKEA out of Sweden, and financially international.

IKEA’s parent company Ingka is headquartered in the Netherlands but 100 percent owned by a Dutch foundation, Stichting Ingka.

This non-profit foundation at the head of a corporation has a €28.5 billion turnover, making it the one of the richest in the world. A foundation is neither liable to pay Dutch tax nor provide an annual report. Not very mysa

Another branch of the company, Inter IKEA Group, also a foundation, just happens to be based out of the always-shady Liechtenstein. This move has allowed Ingvar Kamprad to save between €2.3 and €3.2 billion in tax.

Another tentacle from the monolith is Ikano Group, tasked with financial management and banking. It’s based in Luxemburg with a subsidiary in Switzerland and even has a portion in tropical Curaçao to keep the books cooking.

All of this hard-work and a maze of financial pipelines adds up to IKEA paying well-below its market rate in tax. Ingvar Kamprad was never a fan of paying tax so did the classic of moving to Switzerland. IKEA’s franchise-model alone allowed IKEA to avoid €1 billion in EU taxes between 2009 to 2014.

For a company so proudly Swedish in style it’s interesting that it doesn’t uphold Swedish principles.

Scandinavian ideas of wealth redistribution and societal contribution don’t come as fast and steady as the lingonsylt and potatismos.​

Maybe its true current identity explains its place in Denmark, less Swedish and more like a poster child for the international tax haven syndicate. Skål!