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    How Is Former Lego Boss Buying Up Scottish Country Estates? Brick by Brick

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    A Danish billionaire whose family founded the Lego empire is buying up Scottish country estates - brick by brick...

    Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, former president and CEO of The Lego Group, will own more than 80,000 acres of prime countryside in the Scottish Highlands once the sale of Ledgowan Estate, in Wester Ross, is eventually finalized.

    Mr. Kristiansen has expanded his land-owning interests further by negotiating to buy Ledgowan Estate, which features 11,000 acres as well as a red deer forest and a loch. It also has renewable energy income and forestry.

    The estate had been on the market with a price tag of more than £4.5 million (US$6 million) — and will see the Dane become the 13th largest landowner in Scotland.

    The Duke of Buccleuch is the biggest private landowner with 240,000 acres.

    Eat, Sleep, Buy, Repeat

    Mr. Kristiansen began buying land in Scotland more than 20 years ago when he purchased the 60,000 Strathconon Estate in Ross-shire after falling in love with the country and its spectacular scenery.

    In 2014, his company Kirkbi Estates, a holding and investment firm, spent £5 million (US$6.6 million) on the neighboring Scardroy Estate, which covers 10,000 acres and is rented out to holidaymakers and bird-watching enthusiasts.

    Speaking at the time, Mr. Kristiansen, whose grandfather invented the toy building blocks, said: "We are delighted to take over responsibility and to be proud ambassadors for nature and wildlife conservation."

    Another Danish businessman, Anders Povlsen, who owns the online fashion and beauty firm ASOS, has 11 estates, covering almost 218,364 acres — almost one percent of Scotland's total land mass.

    Building an Empire

    Worth an estimated US$23.3 billion, Mr. Kristiansent is the third-generation owner of Lego, which he ran personally from 1979 to 2004.

    Together with his three grown-up children, they own a 75 percent stake in the US$2 billion business. His son Thomas is the interlocking plastic bricks company's vice-chairman.

    His grandfather Ole started making wooden bricks in his workshop in 1932 before it became an international success.

    Mr. Kristiansen has a 30 percent stake in Merlin Entertainment, owner of Madame Tussauds, as well as investments in real estate and wind farms.

    Officially the richest Dane in the world, he often inspired and tested new model concepts and their building instructions as a child. He also appeared on many of the company's packages and marketing materials.

    Lego is still privately owned and controlled by the Kristiansen family and their foundations. Kjeld and his wife Camilla live in Denmark.

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    Tags:
    land, land acquisition, wildlife, nature, real estate, Lego, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, United Kingdom, Scotland, Denmark
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