Com­rade Chair­man

Forbes - - Leaderboard New Billionaire 30 Under 30 -

as hun­gary con­verted from com­mu­nism to cap­i­tal­ism, sán­dor csányi built a mas­sive bank and be­came his coun­try’s first bil­lion­aire.

IN 1992 Sán­dor Csányi did the un­think­able: He fired peo­ple—a shock to the ter­mi­nated man­agers at his Hun­gar­ian bank, OTP, who had en­joyed lim­it­less job pro­tec­tion un­der com­mu­nism. But the Iron Cur­tain had col­lapsed, the coun­try was chang­ing and Csányi was in a hurry to mod­ern­ize.

His ef­forts helped him pri­va­tize and re­build the Bu­dapest-based OTP Bank Group, a fi­nan­cial-ser­vices jug­ger­naut in eastern and cen­tral Europe with $36.9 bil­lion in as­sets. Its op­er­a­tions span nine coun­tries, from Bul­garia to Slo­vakia, with al­most 12 mil­lion cus­tomers— all of which he di­rects as CEO and chair­man. His OTP stake, plus en­ergy and farm­ing in­ter­ests, add up to a $1 bil­lion for­tune, mak­ing Csányi, 63, Hun­gary’s first bil­lion­aire.

He was born in the small ru­ral town of Jászárokszál­lás (pop. 8,000) and moved to Bu­dapest when he was 14. Af­ter study­ing busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at the city’s Col­lege of Fi­nance and Ac­coun­tancy, Csányi went to work for Hun­gary’s min­istry of fi­nance and later the de­part­ment of state rev­enue. Us­ing con­nec­tions he made while a state ex­ec­u­tive, he ma­neu­vered to be­come OTP’S chair­man in the early 1990s—just as the his­toric shift to cap­i­tal­ism swept across the Com­mu­nist bloc.

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