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H&M mogul buys English country village

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H&M mogul buys English country village
11:02 CEST+02:00
The billionaire owner of Swedish clothing retailer H&M, Stefan Persson, is about to buy an entire English country village, setting him back a cool 300 million kronor ($40 million), British newspaper The Sunday Times reports.

Persson, worth an estimated 140 billion kronor thanks to the success of cut-price fashion retail chain Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), has won a bidding war for the village near Andover in Hampshire, southern England.

The Linkenholt Estate extends to over 600 hectares of farmland, a 170 hectare wood, 21 smaller dwellings in addition to a large manor house, and a cricket ground. Persson will pay £25 million for the property which has been managed by a trust since its previous owner, Herbert Blagrave, died childless in the 1970s.

Persson is set to assume the role of old-fashioned lord of the manor as the 21 smaller dwellings are home to local villagers, many of whom have lived there since birth and pay rents upwards of the equivalent of 6,000 kronor per month.

Persson is reported to have beaten off the challenge of fellow Swedish businessman Claes Bourghardt to buy the property, his second foray into the English country estate market.

The H&M mogul, who occupies 18th place in the Forbes rich list for 2009, also owns a 3,500 hectare estate in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire for which he stumped up over 100 million kronor.

Stefan Persson, who inherited H&M which was founded by his father Erling in the 1940s, has managed to buck the recession with large gains in his share portfolio in recent months, Swedish business daily Dagens Industri reported on Monday.

H&M, with more than 1,800 stores worldwide, has continued to go from strength to strength despite the global downturn with its combination of high fashion, low cost items well placed to capitalize on the austere global trend.

It is as yet unclear how Stefan Persson plans to make use of the most recent addition to his property portfolio but the Linkenholt Estate, aside from considerable rental incomes, also includes lucrative shooting rights, the newspaper reports.

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