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KULCZYK JAN JERZY

Born: 24 June 1950

Died: 29 July 2015


Życiorys


Jan Kulczyk (24 June 1950 – 29 July 2015) was a Polish businessman and entrepreneur. He was the founder and owner of Kulczyk Holding (headquartered in Warsaw) and an international investment house Kulczyk Investments (former name: Kulczyk Investment House) with headquarters in Luxembourg and offices in London and Kyiv. According to the Forbes magazine, Kulczyk was the richest Pole.

Education

Kulczyk graduated from VI Jan i Jędrzej Śniadeccy Secondary School in Bydgoszcz in 1968. He studied law at the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan and foreign trade at the Poznań University of Economics and Business (then: Academy of Economics in Poznań). He received a doctor’s degree in political sciences and international law in 1975.

Business career

In 1981 Kulczyk founded his first company with money from his father Henryk. The Interkulpol joint-venture was one of the first international trade companies formed in Poland after the second world war. In 1988, Jan Kulczyk became the official Volkswagen dealer in Poland. His first large-scale deal was a PLN 150-million sale of 3,000 Volkswagen cars delivered to the Polish police and the security services in the early 1990s. In 1991, Kulczyk Holding a limited liability company was founded. In 1993, the company changed its legal form into a joint-stock company. Jan Kulczyk held the post of the chairman of the supervisory board.

The completed investments in his portfolio included:

  1. Telekomunikacja Polska (a 47,5% share in the years 2000 - 2005, held by a consortium comprising Kulczyk Holding and France Telecom (of which Kulczyk Holding held a 13.6% share));
  2. Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (a 4,8% share in 1993-1999 in partnership with Deutsche Telekom);
  3. TUiR Warta (a nearly 70% share held in 1996-2006. All of the shares were stock-bought, except for a 19,8% share acquired from the State Treasury in a public tender);[
  4. PTE Warta (a 50% share in 2000-2005);
  5. PKN Orlen (a nearly 5% share in 2001-2005).

In 2007 Jan Kulczyk reorganized the Kulczyk Holding Group into Kulczyk Investment House, later known as Kulczyk Investments.

Kulczyk invested in energy, oil and gas, infrastructure, real estate and brewery sectors. His company Kulczyk Investments has 40% share in Neconde Energy Limited, an oil production in Nigeria, 3,49% in San Leon Energy (oil and gas exploration and production), 33,72% in Loon Energy Corporation (a company holding an oil exploration and production licenses in Columbia and Peru), 50,76% in Serinus Energy (an oil and gas exploration and production company operating in Ukraine, Tunisia and Romania) and 9,73% share in Ophir Energy (an oil and gas exploration and production company operating in Africa).[ Kulczyk Investments portfolio includes also a 15,4% share in Strata Limited, a company focused on development of mining projects in Africa and a 25% share in Centar, a company exploring for natural resources in Afghanistan and other countries in Central Asia and Africa.

In 2010, in cooperation with Silverstein Properties Inc., Kulczyk Silverstein Properties was founded a join-venture company specializing in development of commercial real estate projects in Central Europe.

In 2009, company traded a 28% share in Kompania Piwowarska for a 3% share in SABMiller - the world’s second biggest beer producer.

Kulczyk Investments holds a 24% share in Autostrada Wielkopolska,[ a 40% share in Autostrada Wielkopolska II and a 45% share of Autostrada Eksploatacja through subsidiary companies. He also held a 58,42% share in Pekaes SA.

Kulczyk Investments created Polenergia, Poland's first private energy group with regional scope, operating in the sectors of energy generation, distribution and trading from conventional and unconventional sources. In 2011, the Kulczyk Group acquired a 100% share in Nowa Sarzyna Power Plant.

After Jan Kulczyk’s passing in July 2015, his children became his successors. Dominika Kulczyk, as the Vice-President of the Supervisory Board of Kulczyk Investments, is responsible for international relations and the CSR projects. Sebastian Kulczyk has been serving as the Kulczyk Investments CEO since December 2013 and in August 2015 he replaced his late father place in the Supervisory Board of Ciech S.A.

Other activities

Jan Kulczyk was the co-founder of the Polish Business Roundtable. He was also the Honorary Chairman of the German – Polish Chamber of Commerce.

Since June 2006 he was member of the Green Cross International Board of Directors - a UN-affiliated organization focused on ecological safety. Since 6 October 2007 he held the position of the Chairman of the Board.

He was also the President of the Council for Supporting the Scientific Research at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań,a long-term member of the Board of the National Museum of Poznań as well as member of the Church Economic Board. In addition, he was also member of the International Governors Board affiliated with the Peres Center for Peace.

In February 2008, he was incorporated into confraternity of the Order of Saint Paul.

In 2010, he founded the CEED Institute, a think-tank promoting the development of Central and Eastern Europe region.

In 2012, he donated PLN 20 milion to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews to co-found its core exhibition. It was the larggest one-time donation ever made in Poland.

In March 2014, he founded the Council of Polish Investors in Africa, an initiative formed to support Polish companies in establishing business relations on the African markets. The Council consists of representatives of the largest Polish companies and enterprises investing on this continent, including Ursus, Navimor, Asseco, Kulczyk Investments, Polpharma, Grupa Azoty, Krezus and Lubawa.

Controversy

In 2004, Jan Kulczyk was associated with to the Orlen Scandal. The parliamentary investigative commission report stated that Jan Kulczyk could have considerable influence over operations and human resources politics of PKN Orlen, incommensurable to the share he held. Moreover, the report stated that Jan Kulczyk met with the former KGB resident in Poland, Vladimir Alganov.

Regarding the Orlen investigation, the proceedings at the Prosecutors’ Office in Katowice commenced and the parliamentary investigative commission was appointed. Kulczyk was heard as a witness by the prosecutor’s office four times (the last one in April 2008) and submitted extensive explanation to the parliamentary investigative commission. Due to lack of evidence, the Prosecutor’s Office discontinued the proceedings.

Jan Kulczyk was also linked to the so-called Kulczyk Park affair. The Poznan city officials were accused of underrating the land value in the city center, where Jan Kulczyk’s wife carried out the Old Brewery investment.

Personal life and death

Jan Kulczyk was divorced with two children from his marriage with Grażyna Kulczyk: Sebastian (born 1980) and Dominika (born 1977). After the divorce, Joanna Przetakiewicz was his long-time partner.

Jan Kulczyk died on 29 July 2015 in Allgemeines Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien in Vienna due to postoperative complications. He was buried in the family vault at the Jeżycki cemetery in Poznan, next to his father, Henryk Kulczyk (1925-2013).

The richest man in Poland

In 2012, the Forbes magazine put Jan Kulczyk at the top of the richest businessmen in Poland ranking, with PLN 8,9 billion. The same year, the Wprost magazine also put Jan Kulczyk at the top of its ranking, assessing his wealth at PLN 9,7 billion. In 2013, the American edition of Forbes magazine rated Jan Kulczyk 384th of the wealthiest people in the world, with a $3,5 billion worth fortune, making him the highest ranked Pole among the world’s billionaires.

Jan Kulczyk was top ranked 13 times at the list of the 100 richest Poles issued by the Wprost magazine. In 2007 he was ranked 12th, due to his divorce from Grażyna Kulczyk. In 2015, Forbes ranked him 418th richest man in the world ($3,9 billion).

Awards and commendations

  • Irena Sendler Award (2015)
  • Officer’s Cross of Polonia Restituta (2015)
  • Honorary Pearl of the Polish Economy in Economy category (2013)
  • Friend of Nigeria (2013)
  • Friend of Africa (2013)
  • Patron of Culture Title (2012)
  • Commander’s Cross of Polonia Restituta (1998)
  • Kisiel’s Award (1992)