Philanthropist and Financier Dies Suddenly
One of Poland’s wealthiest men…
Jan Kulczyk, 65, one of Poland’s wealthiest men, died in Vienna from complications after a heart procedure. A spokesperson of Kulczyk Holdings, his international investment company founded in 1991, said the passing was a great shock, as the medical procedure was considered minor in nature.
Kulczyk Holdings operates in over 30 countries, concentrating in finance, telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, real estate, automotive and more. Headquarters were in Luxembourg and London. He was one of only a handful of billionaires in Poland.
Kulczyk was known for buying shares in companies held previously by Poland’s socialist government. As companies were privatized during the 1990s and early 2000s, he bought and sold to private investors for lucrative profits. Such deals included Kulczyk’s shares in Poland’s formerly state-owned telecom giant, TPSA, currently publicly traded as Orange Polska. He had created Poland‘s largest automotive group importing and selling Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Bentley cars. The group sold over 1 million cars over the past 20 years, according to a statement issued by Kulczyk Investments. Kulczyk was also a major shareholder in Poland’s biggest oil refiner, PKN Orlen.
Born in Bydgozcz, a city in Central Poland, he had a doctoral degree in international law. He was a philanthropist, awarded the Patron of Culture title by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2012. This past June, Poland’s president Bronislaw Komorowski decorated Kulczyk with the Polonia Restituta Order for his support of Polish culture. Kulczyk was also a large supporter of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews newly opened in Warsaw.
Lately, he was also a strategic partner and a shareholder of SAB Miller, a beer producer operating in 75 markets. He had co-created Kompania Piwowarska, the largest brewing company in Poland. His next business frontier in Poland was to be wind turbine development.
Most recently he was involved in promoting sports in Poland. Adam Krzesinski, the Polish Olympic Committee Secretary General, praised Kulczyks’ dedication to sport over the years. “He was a friend of sport, but his help towards the Polish Olympic Committee was not just limited to his financial contributions,” said Krzesinski. Krzesinski added, “Both Kulczyk Holding and Kulczyk Investments were strategic sponsors during Poland’s 2012 campaign and Polish athletes will continue to benefit throughout coming years.
The entrepreneur leaves behind a daughter, Dominika, and a son, Sebastian who took over as Chief Executive of Kulczyk Investments two years ago. He was divorced.
While it is still unclear what the future holds for the firms, Sebastian Kulczyk said in a recent interview, “My Dad has always been a visionary, has had intuition, has known the right people but, above all, has accurately guided the company. My role now is to bring Kulczyk Investments into the modern era.” Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.
By Raymond Rolak