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

Kellner remains richest Czech, but Babiš drops to fourth place

There are seven dollar billionaires in the Czech Republic, and all but Babiš saw there fortunes increase

Petr Kellner remains the richest Czech, but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) dropped from second to fourth place, according to the Czech edition of Forbes magazine. Taking over the number two spot was Radovan Vítek, followed closely by Karel Komárek in third.

In total, seven Czechs had over $1 billion, which converts to 23.4 billion CZK. The top 100 richest Czechs all together have combined assets worth 1.2 trillion CZK. While that sounds like a lot, it is just half of what US-based Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has on his own. His $114 billion adds up to 2.7 trillion CZK

An estimated 350 billion CZK put Kellner on top domestically. His worth rose 40 billion CZK from last year.

PPF Group founder Kellner started out in the 1990s selling office supplies. After that, he started an investment fund that bought a controlling stake in an 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.

Kellner has also been contemplating a takeover of TV Nova, which would mean a big change in the Czech media scene.

Real estate tycoon Radovan Vítek saw his wealth increase to 75 billion CZK from 60 billion CZK. He owns approximately 90% of CPI Property Group. Vítek began the business with money from his parents and benefited from privatization in Slovakia. According to Forbes, he drives a hard bargain and doesn’t stand for empty social conversation.

KKCG group head Karel Komárek saw his fortune rise to 71 billion CZK from last year’s 67 billion. He has been recently investing in technology, adding that to his previous holdings in lotteries and fossil fuels. He has also been active in promoting Czech classical music, in particular, the legacy of Antonín Dvořák.

The only dollar billionaire on the list to see a drop in fortunes was Andrej Babiš, who now has an estimated 70 billion CZK, down from 75 billion CZK a year ago. Forbes attributes this to poor results for some parts of the Agrofert conglomerate, especially for industrial fertilizers and a German bakery unit. Aside from Agrofert, he also owns the Mafra media group.

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Babiš gained his business experience in Morocco in the Socialist era. He launched his ANO political movement in 2011.

Because Babiš is Prime Minister, his businesses are held by two trust funds. Babiš remains a recipient of the resulting benefits, though, so Forbes still ranks him.

The first businessman ranked on the list who did not get a boost from privatization is Daniel Křetínský who is also the youngest — born in 1975. His assets, totaling 66 billion CZK, put him in fifth place.

He got his start investing coal and power plants but has now moved into media and retail operations in France. 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.

Avast co-founder Pavel Baudiš made his first anti-virus program in 1988, after getting an infected floppy disk. He has built up Avast since then into one of the top cybersecurity firms in the world. The company uses a “freemium” model, with free versions as well as paid premium versions. Baudiš no longer directly runs the company, but is involved in charitable work and other endeavors.

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Pavel Tykač is the last Czech to qualify as a dollar billionaire, with 32 billion CZK. His main holding is Sev.en Energy Group, which controls the assets of former Mostecká uhelná. He also has energy assets in the UK and Australia, and interests in China. He got his start in computer trading and privatization.

Tykač is involved in charity in the Most region. Despite getting much of his money from coal, he drives an electric Tesla car.

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