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Wallenberg family

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Wallenberg family
Business family
Marcus Wallenberg II
Wallenberg II
Current regionStockholm County, Sweden
  • Marriage of Per Hansson
    1692, Sweden
  • 332 years ago
FounderPer Hansson
Motto"Esse, non Videri"

The Wallenberg family is a prominent Swedish family renowned as bankers, industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats, present in most large Swedish industrial groups, like Ericsson, Electrolux, ABB, SAS Group, SKF, AIK, Atlas Copco, Saab AB, and more. In the 1970s, the Wallenberg family businesses employed 40% of Sweden's industrial workforce and represented 40% of the total worth of the Stockholm stock market.[1]

The most famous of the Wallenberg family, Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat, worked in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Between July and December 1944, he issued protective passports and housed Jews, saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives.[2] Their flagship company, Investor AB, has a market capitalization of around $60 billion.[3] The family is also heavily involved in philanthropy through the Wallenberg foundations, especially the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.


Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Statue, Great Cumberland Place, London
Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden; built in 1890s by the Wallenberg family

The earliest known member of the Wallenberg family is Per Hansson (1670–1741) who, in 1692, married Kerstin Jacobsdotter Schuut (1671–1752). Their son, Jakob Persson Wallberg (1699–1758) married twice. The children of his first marriage called themselves Wallberg and those of his second called themselves Wallenberg.[4] Jakob Persson Wallberg was the great-grandfather of André Oscar Wallenberg who, in 1856, founded Stockholms Enskilda Bank, the predecessor of today's Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken.[1]

André Oscar Wallenberg's son Knut Agathon Wallenberg took over as CEO of Stockholms Enskilda Bank in 1886. Like many other Wallenberg relatives, Knut Agathon Wallenberg was also involved in Swedish politics and diplomacy becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs 1914–1917, and member of the Riksdags first chamber (Parliament of Sweden) 1907–1919. In 1916, new legislation made it more difficult for banks to own shares in industrial companies on a long-term basis. Investor was formed as an investment part of Stockholms Enskilda Bank.

Knut Agathon Wallenberg's younger brother Marcus Wallenberg (senior) carried on the tradition and took over as the bank's CEO in 1911, replacing his older brother who was appointed Stockholms Enskilda Bank chairman of the board.

Jacob Wallenberg, eldest son of Marcus Wallenberg (senior), became the bank's CEO after Joseph Nachmanson died in 1927, joined by younger brother Marcus Wallenberg (junior) as the bank's deputy CEO. In 1938, Knut Agathon Wallenberg died. He had no children. Marcus Wallenberg (senior) was appointed Stockholms Enskilda Bank chairman of the board.

During the War the Bank collaborated with the German government. The Secretary of the US Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr. considered Jacob Wallenberg strongly pro-German, and the US subjected the Bank to a blockade that was only lifted in 1947.[5][6]

The fourth generation of Wallenbergs joined the family business in 1953, including heir apparent Marc Wallenberg, eldest son of Marcus Wallenberg (junior), who became a deputy CEO at Stockholms Enskilda Bank in 1953, before taking over as CEO in 1958. After a power struggle between Jacob Wallenberg and his younger brother Marcus Wallenberg (junior), Jacob Wallenberg resigned from the board of directors in 1969.

The resignation opened a seat on the bank's board of directors to Peter Wallenberg (senior), younger son of Marcus Wallenberg (junior). Marcus Wallenberg (junior) pushed through a merger agreement between Stockholms Enskilda Bank and rival Skandinaviska Banken in 1971. Soon after, tragedy struck when Marc Wallenberg committed suicide, observers suggested that the act came possibly because Marc Wallenberg felt himself inadequate to the task of leading what was to become the Scandinavia banking giant Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. The merger went through in 1972.

Marcus Wallenberg (junior), and younger son Peter Wallenberg (senior), focused their interests on the family's investment companies, Investor and Providentia. Investor now became the family's new flagship business, and, under Marcus Wallenberg (juniors) leadership began actively promoting the restructuring of most of the industrial companies under its control, replacing board members and promoting younger CEO and other management.

Peter Wallenberg (senior) took over after Marcus Wallenberg (junior's) death in 1982. For many outsiders, the change in leadership marked a final moment in the family's more than 100-year dominance of the Swedish banking and industrial sectors. Yet Peter Wallenberg (senior) rose to the challenge, guiding Investor and Sweden's industry into a new era. In 1990, it was estimated that the family indirectly controlled one-third of the Swedish Gross National Product. Peter Wallenberg (senior) stepped down from leadership of Investor in 1997.

In 2006, the fifth generation took over the Wallenberg sphere. Marcus Wallenberg, son of Marc Wallenberg, Jacob Wallenberg and Peter Wallenberg (junior) both sons of Peter Wallenberg (senior).

Modern business


The Wallenbergs have a very low-key public profile, eschewing conspicuous displays of wealth. The family motto is "Esse, non Videri" (Latin for "To be, not to be seen").[7] Wallenbergs business empire is often referred to as the Wallenberg sphere, the Wallenberg sphere is a large group of companies where their investment company, Investor AB, or foundation asset management company, Foundation Asset Management (FAM), have the controlling interest.

Notable family members



  1. ^ a b "A Nordic pyramid". The Economist. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Yad Vashem database". Yad Vashem. Archived from the original on 7 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007. who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during World War II ... and put some 15,000 Jews into 32 safe houses.
  3. ^ Burja, Samo (4 May 2022). "The Family That Finances Sweden". Medium. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  4. ^ The Swedish family calendar 1989, red. Elisabeth Thorsell, Almqvist & Wiksell Internationell, Stockholm 1989 ISBN 91-22-01318-0 s.360
  5. ^ "Authors Claim Wallenberg Family Assisted Nazis in Banking Deals". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 8 November 1989. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  6. ^ Gowland, Rob (19 June 1996). "Banks' nazi connections exposed". The Guardian (Socialist Party of Australia).
  7. ^ "In Sweden, a Shy Dynasty Steps Out (Published 1996)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 July 2023.