Six Czechs make the Forbes’ billionaires list

Petr Kellner has broke in to the top 100 richest people in the world

Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires again ranks Petr Kellner as the richest Czech. According to the list, he is the 88th richest person in the world, with $15.5 billion. In the previous ranking, he had $12.2 billion and was 105th, so he has finally broken into the top 100.

Overall, six Czechs made it onto the ranking this year, and the names were the same as for last year.

The 32nd annual ranking had a record 2,208 billionaires who together are worth $9.1 trillion. The top spot went to Amazon’s Jeff Bozos, who has a fortune of $112 billion, the first person to cross the $100 billion mark. His wealth was boosted by an increase in the value of Amazon stock.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates dropped to second place with $90 billion. Seven of the top 10 are based in the United States.

The richest European was Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, with a fortune of $72 billion.

Petr Kellner got his start in the early 1990s selling office supplies and then started an investment fund that he used to buy a controlling stake in the biggest Czech insurer during its privatization, according to Forbes.

His PPF Group is a significant shareholder in Home Credit, the biggest consumer finance firm in China. Other assets include a stake in telecom firm O2 Czech Republic, PPF Bank and commercial real estate holdings.

“Kellner likes kiteboarding and flying on his new Gulfstream G650,” Forbes states.

There is a significant gap before the next richest Czech. Politician and businessman Andrej Babiš comes in 456th place with $4.6 billion.

“Nicknamed the Czech Donald Trump, Andrej Babiš was elected prime minister of the Czech Republic in December,” Forbes states, adding that he was required to put his agribusiness firm, Agrofert, into trusts in early 2017 to comply with a Czech conflict-of-interest law.

The magazine did not delve further into the current political situation, but added that he also owns a Michelin-starred restaurant, La Paloma, in the French Riviera.

Third is Karel Komárek, in 720th place with $3.2 billion. Komárek and his family made their wealth during the privatization era in the Czech Republic during the 1990s, Forbes states.

He and fellow Czech investor Jiří Šmejc in 2016 formed the Sazka Group, now the largest lottery owner in Europe. That same year in West Virginia he started U.S. Methanol to create alternative fuels.

Close behind as the fourth richest Czech is real estate entrepreneur Radovan Vítek in 822nd place with $2.9 billion. He got his start in Slovakia in the 1990s during voucher privatization. He moved to the Czech Republic in 1997, where he created a luxury hotel out of a coop headquarters. His CPI Property Group is active in shopping malls. The company in 2017 acquired 11 malls in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania. A fun fact that Forbes mentions is that he owns a 260-acre estate in Surrey, England, that used to belong to Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

The fifth-richest Czech is Daniel Křetínský, in 924th place with $2.6 billion. It is his second time on the Forbes’ list. He runs and co-owns Energetický a průmyslový Holding (EPH), the biggest energy group in Central Europe.

He also has a stake in publishing house Czech News Center, which counts the popular tabloid Blesk among its titles. Křetínský is also a co-owner of football club Sparta Prague, one of the most successful clubs in Central Europe.

The final Czech billionaire is Pavel Tykač, in 1,756th place with $1.3 billion. He began as a computer distributor in the early 1990s.

He later partnered with four colleagues to found Motoinvest, which participated in hostile takeovers during the privatization era. Currently, his largest assets are two Czech coal mining firms.

News on the Forbes’s list for the CEE region is that Hungary now has its first billionaire. Real estate and banking tycoon Sandor Csanyi came in 1,999th place with $1.1 billion.

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