The 2009 edition of Poland’s richest citizens is out, and perhaps not surprisingly, as the global crisis spreads it’s hit the rich quite hard. Published in Wprost magazine, the annual “100 Richest Poles” names the nation’s wealthiest, their assets, and their industry.
Whether Polish-born or nationalised citizens, almost all members of the list’s exclusive club earned their fortunes in the same way: through business. There are no rock stars or dames and gents of the silver screen, and even those who made their money in sport are team owners rather than players.
On the top of the list sits Jan Kulczyk, with a net worth of 5.9 billion złoty (down from 6.7 billion last year). 59-year-old Kulczyk has invested heavily in the energy market, as well as the Polish banking sector. He specialises in investing in oil and gas exploration, production and marketing of electricity as well as investment in infrastructure.
Number two on the list is Zygmunt Solorz-Żak, the founder and majority shareholder of the Polsat television network. At 5.8 billion złoty, his holdings are also down from last year, when he was worth 6.5 billion. In fact, the only billionaire in the top three whose holdings increased this year is Sławomir Smołokowski, now worth 4.3 billion, up from 3.5 billion złoty last year. The Ukrainian-born Pole made his fortune in oil, co-founding the oil-trading company J&S.
However, while Poland’s richest men are hardly living on scraps, compared to the world’s wealthiest people they’re no, well, Bill Gates. The American entrepreneur who sits firmly on the top of the list is worth $40 billion – that’s 127 billion złoty.