updated 4/5/2004 9:08:47 AM ET 2004-04-05T13:08:47

The founder of Swedish furniture giant Ikea isn’t hurting for money, but the company he founded denied on Monday a report that he surpassed Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as the world’s wealthiest man.

In an article to be released this week, Swedish news weekly Veckans Affaerer said Ingvar Kamprad, 77, the founder of Ikea, had surpassed Microsoft’s Gates and Buffett as the world’s wealthiest person.

(MSNBC.COM is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

The falling exchange rate between the Swedish krona and the U.S. dollar, the magazine said, had caused Kamprad’s personal fortune to rise to an estimated $52.5 billion.

Ikea said that wasn’t the case.

“This is completely wrong. It’s a mistake that is made all the time,” said Ikea spokeswoman Marianne Barner. “Estimating the value of the company, including all the stores, and saying it’s all Ingvar’s, that is totally wrong.”

“Ingvar Kamprad does not own Ikea. Ingvar donated the concern to the Dutch Stichting INGKA Foundation in 1982.”

In February, Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s billionaires put Gates at No. 1 with an estimated $46.6 billion. It was the 10th consecutive year the Microsoft co-founder was atop the list.

Buffett, the Omaha investment guru, was No. 2 with $42.9 billion.

On that same list, Kamprad was No. 13, with an estimated fortune of $18.5 billion.

But Veckans Affaerer said when the dollar’s slide against the kronor was calculated, he had overtaken Gates and Buffett.

Kamprad has a reputation for frugality and lives in Switzerland where, as a resident, he is not subject to Sweden’s taxes, which are among the highest in the world.

Ikea, founded in 1943, has 174 stores in 31 countries and employs some 76,000 workers.

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