H&M chairman Stefan Persson is Sweden's richest man. Photo: TT
A new mansion for Sweden's business magnate Persson, one of the world's richest men, has ruffled the feathers of a wealthy neighbour – who complained it would interfere with his game hunting hobby.
Billionaire H&M owner Persson ultimately prevailed over the dispute – obtaining permission to build his nine-bed manor house on his 3,000 square-metre estate in western England, including a swimming pool, tea house, walled gardens and an orangery.
The dispute centered on poplar trees in the area, according to reports in the British media.
Speaking to Britain's The Sunday Times, neighbour Harry Hyams said the trees provided "winter holding cover" for pheasants. Hyams, 87, has reportedly lived on the nearby Ramsbury Manor Estate for 50 years.
The trees were due to be uprooted and replaced to improve the look of the area – but Hyams argued that the process would disturb game birds and drive them away from their habitat.
According to the British property developer – who is worth an estimated 36.8 billion kronor (US $4.4 billion) – the plans came in "direct conflict" with "sporting rights" he has over the land.
Hyams contacted solicitors and sent a formal complaint via a planning agent, who wrote: "Mr. Hyams has sporting rights over the whole of the application site and all of its surrounding lands."
"These major landscape works would be in direct conflict with his sporting rights, severely compromising the exercise of these sporting rights in full," the agent added.
But ultimately Hyams' argument will not prevent the Swedish business magnate's house, near the village of Ramsbury about 100km west of London, from being built.
Council officers have said that the shooting rights had nothing to do with the trees – and that the two tycoons would have to fight it out between themselves.
According to Persson's defense, replanting a better mix of woodland trees could actually improve the environment for game birds in the long run.
In March 2013, Forbes reported Persson's net worth as US $28 billion making him the richest of Sweden's 12 billionaires and the 17th richest person in the world.
In January, Bloomberg reported Persson's net worth to be up by US $418 million – the highest gain among Europe's richest.
He owns properties in London, Paris and Stockholm and, in 2009, acquired the 21-cottage village of Linkenholt in Hampshire, England.