Lego's founding family in leadership handover

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - The family that founded and owns Lego, the maker of the popular multi-colored toy building bricks, is reshuffling its top leadership to create a "smooth handover of active ownership to the next generation."

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the company founder's grandson, said Thursday he will leave his position as deputy chairman to his 37-year-old son, Thomas Kirk Kristiansen. The 68-year-old father will take a seat on the board.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen said the aim was "to maintain active family ownership of the LEGO Group."

After 25 years as CEO, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen was replaced in 2004 by Joergen Vig Knudstorp, an outsider to the founding family who helped bring Lego A/S from a loss to a profit.

Known for its assortment of building blocks, Lego is not publicly listed and doesn't release quarterly figures. However, the group, based in Billund, western Denmark, has published earnings reports since 1997.

Last year, net profit was up more than 30 percent from 2014, at 9.2 billion kroner ($1.4 billion), while revenue grew 25 percent to 35.8 billion kroner ($5.4 billion). The number of employees also grew by more than 15 percent in 2015 to 17,300.

The company was launched in 1932 and the first snap-together Lego bricks were created in 1949.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is considered Denmark's richest man and is worth $9.7 billion according to Forbes magazine.

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