Andrej Babiš at the EU summit in May 2019 via Wikimedia / Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

Petr Kellner keeps top spot as richest Czech, Babiš comes in fourth in 2020 Forbes ranking

The annual Forbes ranking lists the same eight Czech billionaires as last year, but the order has shifted
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Forbes magazines’ annual ranking of the world’s richest people included eight Czechs, with Petr Kellner retaining the top position. The list of Czechs is the same as in 2018, though the order has shifted and six either saw no change or a drop in their wealth, while just two saw an increase.

Globally, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest person for a third year in a row, worth $113 billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates remained at number 2, with $98 billion. Fashion brand impresario Bernard Arnault come in next with $76 billion, pushing investor Warren Buffet out of the top three.

PPF Group founder Petr Kellner, in first place in the Czech Republic, was tied with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch for 68th place worldwide at S14.9 billion. According to Forbes, Kellner’s fortune dropped $0.6 billion since the same time last year. He began his career in the 1990s selling office supplies, and then started an investment fund which he used to buy a controlling stake in the biggest Czech insurance company during privatization. PFF Group is the main shareholder in consumer finance company Home Credit, which operates in 10 countries. He also has holdings in telecom firm O2 Czech Republic, PPF Bank and commercial real estate holdings.

Real estate tycoon Radovan Vítek was second in the Czech Republic and 451st globally. His $4 billion fortune fell by $0.5 billion. He owns approximately 90% of CPI Property Group. Vítek began the business with money from his parents and benefited from privatization in Slovakia. He moved to the Czech Republic in 1997 and converted a former cooperative headquarters into a luxury hotel. His CPI Property Group has holdings in Germany, France, Croatia, Hungary, and Poland.

Daniel Křetínský, in third place in the Czech Republic and 565th worldwide, is the youngest on the local ranking, born in 1975. he was in fifth place last year. His $3.4 billion in assets dropped $0.5 billion from last year.

He began by investing power plants and has since bought stakes in French newspaper Le Monde and German retail giant Metro AG. Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) is his main holding, though. He also owns Sparta Praha football club. He is married to Petr Kellner’s daughter, Anna Kellnerová.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) is in fourth place in the Czech ranking and 616th globally. Last year at this time, he was tied second locally, sharing the spot with Vítek, but by an October 2019 ranking by the Czech edition of Forbes had already dropped down in the list.

Babiš’ main holding is the Agrofert conglomerate, a maker of agricultural chemicals. He also owns the Mafra media group. He gained his business experience in Morocco under socialism.

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He launched his ANO political movement in 2011. Because he is prime minister, his businesses are held by two trust funds. Babiš remains a recipient of the benefits, though, so Forbes still ranks him.

KKCG group head Karel Komárek came in fifth locally and 648th globally. His $3.1 billion fortune was unchanged. He got his start in the 1990s in in oil and gas. In 2010 he split from his father and sister to start his own investment group, and has been investing in entertainment, information technology, real estate and biomedicine. He has also been active in promoting Czech classical music, in particular, the legacy of Antonín Dvořák.

Pavel Tykač is sixth in the Czech Republic and 1513th worldwide, with his $1.4 billion fortune unchanged since last year. His main holding is Lichtenstein-based Sev.en Energy Group, which controls the assets of former Mostecká uhelná. In 2019, Sev.en Energy purchased a half interest in InterGen, a power plant operator in the United Kingdom and Australia. He got his start in computer sales in the 1990s.

Avast co-founder Pavel Baudis ranked seventh locally and 1730th worldwide. His $1.2 billion in assets dropped $0.2 billion since the previous ranking. He made his first anti-virus program in 1988, after getting a floppy disk with the Vienna virus. After the Velvet Revolution, he and Eduard Kučera built Avast into one of the world’s top cybersecurity firms. Baudiš no longer directly runs the company, but is involved in charitable work and other endeavors.

Closing out the list is Penta investments co-founder Marek Dospiva, ranked eighth in the Czech Republic and 1851st globally. During the past year his fortune rose by $0.1 billion to reach $1.1 billion. Penta Investments has investments in real estate, banking, healthcare, and aviation, as well as controlling stakes in Privatbanka, pharmacy chain Dr. Max, and sports betting operator Fortuna.

Dospiva and his Slovak partner Jaroslav Haščák got their start by importing Chinese textiles to chain stores in Czechoslovakia.

Czech and global rankings, estimated assets
1. (68) Petr Kellner $14.9 billion (-$0.6 billion)
2. (451) Radovan Vítek $4.0 billion (-$0.5 billion)
3. (565) Daniel Křetínský $3.4 billion (+$0.5 billion)
4. (616) Andrej Babiš $3.23 billion (-$0.3 billion)
5. (648) Karel Komárek $3.1 billion (unchanged)
6. (1513) Pavel Tykač $1.4 billion (unchanged)
7. (1730) Pavel Baudis $1.2 billion (-$0.2 billion)
8 (1851) Marek Dospiva $1.1 billion (+$0.1 billion)
Source: Forbes

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