Czech billionaire Petr Kellner killed in Alaska helicopter crash

Czech Republic’s richest man among five killed in ski resort crash

Ella Glover
Monday 29 March 2021 09:19
<p><a href="/life-style/kylie-jenner-makeup-artist-gofundme-b1820191.html">Billionaire</a> Petr Kellner has been killed in a <a href="/news/world/europe/olivier-dassault-dead-helicopter-crash-france-b1813696.html">helicopter crash </a>in Alaska</p>

Billionaire Petr Kellner has been killed in a helicopter crash in Alaska

The Czech Republic’s richest man has been killed in a helicopter crash in Alaska.

Billionaire Petr Kellner was among five people who had died after the aircraft crashed near Knick Glacier, Alaska, his financial group PPF said on Monday.

Kellner was staying at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, a remote, multi-sport, luxury lodge which specialises in heliskiing trips, which entail reaching remote hills and mountains by helicopter in order to ski or snowboard.

The 56-year-old was a towering business figure of the Czech post-communist era, with his wealth estimated at $17.5bn (£12.7bn), according to Forbes.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babis offered his condolences to the family. “Unbelievable tragedy. I am very sorry,” Babis said on Twitter.

Among the deceased is another guest of the lodge, 50-year-old Benjamin Larochaix, also from the Czech Republic, two of the lodge’s guides, 52-year-old Gregory Harms and 38-year-old Sean McMannany, and the helicopter’s pilot, 33-year-old Zach Russel. 

Authorities said that a rescue team was sent to recover the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter around 10pm local time on Saturday night after it had not returned to the lodge. 

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PPF said the circumstances of the crash are currently being investigated.

A sixth person, who has not been named, survived the crash and is currently in serious but stable condition and is being treated in a hospital near Anchorage, Alaska State Troopers said.

Kellner’s roots go back to the 1990s when he set up PPF as an investment company with partners to take part in the country’s scheme to privatise hundreds of state-owned companies. In the mid-1990s, PPF took a stake in former national insurer Ceska Pojistovna, a springboard for further growth.

PPF went on to grow in finance, telecommunications, manufacturing, media or biotech in businesses spanning mainly Europe, Asia and the United States. PPF’s assets amounted to 44bn euros (£37.6bn) by mid-2020.

PPF is the main owner of consumer lender Home Credit, which has grown in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia as well as a group of telecommunications firms in central and eastern Europe including O2 Czech Republic.

His death came at a time when PPF was acquiring a stake in Czech bank MONETA Money Bank and proposing to merge it with his Air Bank and the Czech and Slovak assets of Home Credit. PPF’s telecomunications infrastructure firm Cetin has also said it was considering a public offering and other options.

PPF completed the acquisition of Central European Media Enterprises, a group of television stations in central and eastern Europe, last year.

Kellner had avoided public attention but was known to be a keen skier. PPF published a picture of him snowboarding in one of its annual reports.

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