Kellner, Babiš remain richest Czechs

The annual Forbes ranking showed a drip in the number of billionaires worldwide

The world’s richest person for the second year in a row is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, while Petr Kellner remains the top-ranked Czech in Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of billionaires.

Overall, the Czech Republic has eight billionaires with a combined wealth of $32.3 billion.

Petr Kellner is ranked as the 73rd richest person in the world, with assets worth 15.5 billion, just like in the last year's ranking. Kellner got his start in the 1990s selling office supplies and then used that stake to create PPF Group, which owns consumer finance company Home Credit, active in 10 countries, as well as a stake in telecom firm O2 Czech Republic, PPF Bank and real estate.

In all of modern history, Kellner is the 111th richest person, according to news agency Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the founder of the ANO political movement, was tied for second-richest Czech, and 617th richest worldwide, with a fortune of $3.5 billion.

Much of his wealth is held in trust due to conflict of interest laws. He made his fortune in Agrofert, a conglomerate with 210 subsidiaries ranging from agriculture to mass media. He has been called the “Czech Donald Trump.” He started his fortune as a fertilizer trader.

Sharing second place in the Czech Republic and 617th place worldwide is Radovan Vítek, who runs real estate firm CPI Property Group. He got his start in the early 1990s privatizations in Slovakia and moved to the Czech Republic in 1997.

Karel Komárek is fourth in the Czech Republic and 715th worldwide with $3.1 billion. His interests include betting firm Sazka and the conglomerate KKCG.

Other Czechs on the list, in order, are businessman Daniel Křetínský in 775th place worldwide, Avast founder Pavel Baudiš and energy investor Pavel Tykač, tied at the 1605th place, and Penta Investments co-founder Marek Dospiva at 2057th place.

First-placed American entrepreneur Jeff Bezos’ wealth rose year-on-year by $19 billion to $131 billion, but he faces a divorce that could impact his ranking in the future. Aside from Amazon, Bezos owns newspaper The Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company. Bloomberg ranks Bezos as the richest man in modern history.

The world’s second richest person remains Microsoft founder Bill Gates with $96.5 billion, up $6.5 billion from the previous list.

Investor Warren Buffett is third with $82.5 billion. His fortune fell by $1.5 billion since last year.

Forbes said that the number of billionaires and their total wealth shrank compared to the previous listing. The magazine counted 2,153 billionaires or 55 fewer than a year ago. Some 46 percent were relatively poorer than in the previous year.

“In total, the ultra-rich are worth $8.7 trillion, down $400 billion from 2018. Altogether 11 percent of last year’s list members, or 247 people, dropped out of the ranks, the most since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis,” Forbes stated.

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