Petr Kellner, the Czech Republic’s wealthiest person with a fortune topping $13 billion, died aged 56 in a helicopter crash in Alaska, his spokeswoman said on Monday.
Kellner, who meticulously guarded his privacy, owned the financial, telecommunications, engineering and insurance PPF Group, which employs 94,000 people worldwide.
“With deep regret we announce that PPF Group founder and majority shareholder Mr Petr Kellner died tragically in a helicopter crash in the Alaska Range on Saturday,” PPF Group spokeswoman Jitka Tkadlecova told AFP.
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“The causes of the accident, in which five people died in total, are being investigated,” she added.
Czech media said Kellner was on a heli-skiing trip.
The Forbes magazine put Kellner’s wealth in 2020 at 293 billion Czech crowns (11.2 billion euros, $13.2 billion).
Kellner, who started his business selling copy machines, founded the PPF Group in 1991, two years after the fall of Communism in the former Czechoslovakia.
The group with global assets worth 44 billion euros comprises Home Credit International, the world’s largest non-banking consumer lender with extensive activities on the Chinese market.
PPF recently bought the CME media group running TV companies in central and eastern Europe, as well as Telenor’s telecommunications assets in the Balkans.
Kellner’s daughter Anna Kellnerova is a two-time Czech junior show jumping champion with an ambition to appear at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Kellner’s funeral will take place “in a narrow family circle”, Tkadlecova said.