Ratos is exchange listed

Twenty years after its formation, Ratos was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange on July 1, 1954. Share capital was SEK 15 million (150,000 shares at a nominal value of SEK 100). Twenty percent of the shares were offered at a subscription rate of SEK 200. The stock listing was a success. The issue was immediately oversubscribed and Ratos added approximately 1,000 shareholders. Larger owners outside of the Söderberg family included the Henry and Gerda Dunkers Foundation, the Nobel Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Ratos had, at that time, three operating subsidiaries: Gryts Bruk, Lasco and Söderberg & Haak. Combined, they had a book value of approximately SEK 16 million (today approximately SEK 220 million). Additionally, there was the subsidiary George Haglund AB, which had previously been Söderberg & Haak’s representative in Gothenburg. There was also a stock portfolio, also with a book value of approximately SEK 16 million. The market value was easily twice that. Nevertheless, well into the 1970s, it was the shares of just four companies that together accounted for more than half of the stock portfolio: Asea, Bulten, Gränges and Holmen.

Shortly after its exchange listing, Ratos acquired yet another company, Smedjebackens Valsverks AB.

Listed shares provided more income to Ratos than its subsidiaries throughout almost the entire period up until Ragnar Söderberg’s death in 1974. Söderberg & Haak accounted for almost 90% of the subsidiary companies’ combined distributions to Ratos.

Prior to exchange listing, Torsten, Ragnar and Johan Söderberg were members of Ratos’s board. In conjunction with the exchange listing, outside members were also added to the board. The first two were Carl de Geer, director of Enskilda Banken, and Lars G. Sundblad, managing director of Iggesunds Bruk. de Geer was succeeded by Walter Wehtje, managing director of Atlas Copco and later Investor. Marcus Wallenberg Jr. was a member of the board from 1958-69. Because the Söderberg family controlled, both personally and through two foundations, such a large portion of the shares, share turnover was relatively low. In order to increase the number of shares, while continuing to maintain family control, a system of A and B shares was introduced in 1971, with the latter shares receiving one-tenth of a vote.

Administrative work at Ratos was very limited for a long period of time. As recently as the mid-1970s, it has handled by just a half-dozen people. Erik Söderberg was therefore able to remain as managing director of Ratos for a couple of years after becoming managing director of NK. Ratos did generate, however, numerous board directorships for Ragnar Söderberg and his sons, both at subsidiary companies and at the listed companies in which Ratos had significant holdings.