Solowow named richest Pole on “Wprost” list

Corporate and real estate magnate Michal Solowow, who is cashing in on a construction boom in Poland by holding many building-related companies, recently topped ?Wprost? weekly?s 2007 list of the 100 richest Poles. Solowow, 44, of Kielce, 115 kilometers west of Krakow in central Poland, has a fortune estimated at 6.6 bln zloty. 
The American business magazine ?Forbes,? which publishes an annual list of the world?s 500 richest people, ranks Solowow 407th, with an estimated worth of $2.3 bln. That is the highest ranking for a Pole. Each June ?Wprost? publishes a list of the 100 richest Poles. ?Forbes? sometimes uses the list as a resource.
The influential ?Wprost,? which has been published since 1982, is read not only in Poland but among Polish-speaking people in Western Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
The secretive Solowow has a reputation as one of the boldest and most successful investors in Poland. He has bought a number of privately held companies, restructured them to increase their efficiency, then taken them public on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Each time companies? stock has risen, increasing his fortune, ?Wprost? reported.
Solowow holds 40 percent of the stock of the property developer Echo Investment, 49 percent of the ceramic-tile and bathroom-product maker Cersanit S.A. and 68 percent of the wood-floor producer Barlinek. He also has 52 percent of chemical firm Dwory S.A. Poland is enjoying a construction frenzy, partly because of easy credit. Many Poles are buying Echo Investment apartments, Cersanit bathroom products and Barlinek wooden floors. Echo?s developments include apartment complexes, office buildings, hotels, shopping centers and multiplex cinemas. The company plans to expand into shopping-and-entertainment centers and other commercial activities. Cersanit S.A. is the national leader in bathroom materials. Its products include ceramic tiles, shower cabins, acrylic bathtubs, acrylic shower trays, toilets, other bathroom fixtures and bathroom furniture.
Barlinek S.A. is Poland?s leader in wood floors. The construction boom has fueled dynamic growth in its sales.

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