P o l s k i e W i e ś c i

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Poland's richest man, Jan Kulczyk, dies at 65

  • Jan Kulczyk was a Polish businessman. He was the founder and owner of Kulczyk Holding and international investment house Kulczyk Investments with headquarters in Luxembourg and offices in London, Kiev and Dubai.
  • He has created Poland‘s largest automotive group importing and selling Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Bentley cars. During the past 20 years, the group sold over 1 million cars, which has made it an unquestionable leader of the Polish market.
  • He had initiated the A2 project to build Poland’s first private motorway that linked Poland with Europe. 
  • The largest Polish investor in Africa. Owner of a diversified asset portfolio comprising fuels and iron, copper and gold ores.
  • His donation of some 20 million zlotys ($5.3 million) helped finish work on the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
  • Depending on how Kulczyk’s wealth is divided, media and mobile telephony mogul Zygmunt Solorz-Zak could become Poland’s richest person with a net worth of $2.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
WARSAW— Jan Kulczyk, Poland’s richest man and a controversial symbol of the country’s transformation from communism to a market economy, died Tuesday night from surgery complications, his investment vehicle said in a press statement. He was 65 years old.

One of Poland’s few moguls, Mr. Kulczyk opened his first business while the country was still under Communist rule in 1981, based on capital from his father. He subsequently transformed his initial car dealership into a $3.9 billion international holding investing in energy, infrastructure, telecommunications and beverages.
By taking part in the country’s biggest privatizations in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Kulczyk’s business activities for years remained intertwined with Poland’s economic fate, but also tied him to controversies surrounding the privatizations.
Major transactions included the purchase of minority stakes in national telecom provider Telekomunikacja Polska SA, now Orange Polska; insurer Warta; and Tyskie brewery. For a time, Mr. Kulczyk was the biggest private investor in brewing and beverage company SABMiller PLC.
In 2004 Mr. Kulczyk was questioned by a parliamentary committee regarding irregularities at the country’s biggest refiner, PKN Orlen. The documents and testimony showed he had a significantly larger impact on the company’s business than his 5% stake would suggest.
With Poland’s entry into the European Union and the Civic Platform government favoring passive financial investors for state-controlled companies, Mr. Kulczyk’s role as a privatization deal maker waned. He played only a minor role during the 2009-2010 privatization frenzy that saw the government sell nearly 30 billion zlotys ($8.1 billion) in assets, unsuccessfully bidding to take over energy producer Enea.
Mr. Kulczyk’s investment vehicle, Kulczyk Investments, is involved in a range of areas, including chemical maker Ciech and several oil and gas exploration and production companies in South America, Africa and Asia. In 2014 he passed on the CEO mantle at Kulczyk Investments to his son Sebastian, but remained active in the company.

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