New report maps out owner-managed businesses in Denmark


Denmark faces a change in ownership of 17,000 businesses over the next decade. A new report takes stock of owner-managed businesses in terms of ownership, management, board and generational change. The figures are presented today at a conference arranged by Centre for Owner-Managed Businesses, CBS.



Caption: At the konferencen ’Ejerledelse - Nu og for fremtiden’ (Owner-Managed Businesses - Now and in the future) chairman Jette Egelund from the Danish family-run business Vipp will share her experience with change in ownership. At the picture is Marie's Hairdresser from 1939, which was the first place the famous Vipp pedal bin was produced for. Source: Vipp.

According to a new report almost 4 in 5 Danish businesses are managed by their owner and over the next decade 17,000 businesses will change owner.There is therefore ample reason to discuss challenges and potential opportunities for the future owner-managed businesses. 

Yesterday CBS hosted a Danish Management Society meeting on the subject of owner management, visited by Eivind Kolding, CEO of Novo-Fonden, among others. Today the same theme is the focus for a conference at CBS: ”Ejerledelse - Nu og for fremtiden” (Owner-Managed Businesses - Now and in the future).

The new report ”Ejerledelse i Danmark” (Owner Management in Denmark) (PDF iconpdf) will be made public at the conference as the first report of six to map the distribution of owner-managed businesses. The report shows that for 10,200 businesses the owner is presently over 65 years old, but that is about to change says one of the researchers behind the report:

- In the next few years there will be a great pressure for generational change in Danish owner-managed businesses. The great challenge now is to use this mapping to engage in dialogue with and develop tools for these businesses, so we can ensure the best possible transitions, says Morten Bennedsen, Hoffman Professor at INSEAD in France.

He is head of the Wendel research centre, which researches family businesses.The Centre for Owner Managed Businesses (COMB) at CBS is cooperating closely with the INSEAD research centre.

Mapping opens up for questions
The report shows that only one in ten private limited companies (anpartsselskab) have a board. The figures also show that only 8 percent of directorships in large businesses are filled by women.

- It is interesting that many businesses do not prioritise establishing a board, perhaps because they believe it is not worth the effort. That begs the question; what role should a board play? That is just one of many questions these figures open up for and which we will continue to research, says Morten Bennedsen.

In cooperation with a colleague he will publish a further five reports on the subject with six month intervals.

At the conference today Peter Møllgaard, Professor and Dean of Research at CBS, will present COMB's work. Three owner-managed businesses will share their experiences with change in ownership, among others Jette Egelund, Chairman at the business Vipp, who is behind the pedal bin known around the world.

Read more about the conference (PDF iconpdf)

Read more about COMB

Read more about the INSEAD research centre

Facts and figures from the report
An owner-managed business is a business with one supervising owner who is active in the day-to-day management.
The data are based on figures for Danish businesses over a 19 year period from 1995 to 2013.

•    67 percent of all Danish limited companies (aktie- og anpartsselskaber) have a single owner  
•    7 in 10 businesses have one supervising owner
•    1 in 10 private limited companies (anpartsselskab) have established a board
•    8 percent of directorship in large businesses are filled by women
•    In 81.5 percent of all Danish businesses, the managing director is also the supervising owner
•    32 percent of all transfers of management happen within the family
•    In 10,200 owner-managed businesses the owner-manager is over 65 years old
•    Approx. 17,000 businesses are very likely to change ownership within the next decade
•    In total 23,000 businesses in Denmark will change ownership or make a generational transfer before 2025

Source: ”Ejerledelse i Danmark” (Owner Management in Denmark ) by Morten Bennedsen, Professor at INSEAD, and Kasper Meisner Nielsen, Associate Professor at Hong Kong University, February 2015.

About Centre for Owner Managed Businesses
COMB is a research centre at CBS established May 2014. With a grant of DKK 22.8 m the Danish Industry Foundation paved the way for the centre, which will develop specific tools and methods for helping Danish owner-managers through a successful change in ownership. The centre is also collaborating with the world's leading research centre in family-run businesses; Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise at INSEAD.

For further information, please contact:
Peter Møllgaard, Dean of Research and Professor, tel: 21 62 20 15 or
Mads Lebech, CEO of the Danish Industry Foundation, tel: 20 94 90 46 or  
Morten Bennedsen, Professor at INSEAD, Skype: morten_bennedsen or

The page was last edited by: Communications // 09/02/2020