Poland’s rich­est man, in­vestor and phi­lan­thropist Jan Kul­czyk, dies aged 65

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM -

Jan Kul­czyk, Poland’s rich­est man and the founder and pres­i­dent of in­vest­ment em­pire Kul­czyk Hold­ing, who made his for­tune dur­ing Poland’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tions, has died from com­pli­ca­tions fol­low­ing surgery, the com­pany said Wed­nes­day. He was 65.

TVN24 said he died in Vi­enna.

Poland’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Lech Walesa, said that Kul­czyk was ir­re­place­able. “It will be hard to or­ga­nize some things with­out him.’’

For years, Kul­czyk, a lawyer and man­ager by ed­u­ca­tion, led lists of the rich­est Poles and was re­puted for his courage and imag­i­na­tion in busi­ness de­ci­sions. He in­vested in the energy and nat­u­ral re­sources sec­tors in Europe and in Africa, and also de­vel­oped the car and in­fra­struc­ture sec­tors in Poland.

Poland’s edi­tion of the Forbes Mag­a­zine es­ti­mated his wealth at some 15 bil­lion zlotys ($4 bil­lion.)

To many, his suc­cess was a sym­bol of the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by Poland’s tran­si­tion from a com­mu­nist to a free mar­ket econ­omy. He started from a trad­ing com­pany set up by his fa­ther, and built his for­tune tak­ing part in the in­ten­sive pri­va­ti­za­tion of state plants af­ter com­mu­nism.

“You can­not write an hon­est history of Poland’s trans­for­ma­tions af­ter 1989 with­out men­tion­ing the role of Jan Kul­czyk,’’ said Leszek Bal­cerow­icz, for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter and au­thor of Poland’s trans­for­ma­tion pro­gram.

Crit­ics, though, said Kul­czyk made money by ac­quir­ing Pol­ish as­sets at favourable prices and then selling them to western in­vestors at a large profit.

Kul­czyk do­nated gen­er­ously to cul­ture and history. 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. He also spon­sored grants for gifted young peo­ple.

Di­vorced from his wife, he is sur­vived by a son and a daugh­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.