Czech billionaire Petr Kellner dies in helicopter crash in Alaska
Petr Kellner, 56, the richest person in the Czech Republic, died in a helicopter crash in the mountains of Alaska. His PPF group company confirmed in an online statement on Saturday that Kellner was among five people who died. The incident is still under investigation.
With an estimated net worth of $ 17.5 billion, Kellner made his fortune in the early 1990s selling office supplies before taking a stake in the largest Czech insurer when it was privatized. Today, its business includes Home Credit, a consumer loan service, as well as a media and telecommunications portfolio with stakes in O2, Telenor and CME. His PPF group claims to have assets totaling more than $ 50 billion.
In an online statement, Kellner’s PPF investment group celebrated the entrepreneur’s “incredible work ethic and creativity”. Czech Prime Minister and billionaire Andrej Babiš tweeted: “An incredible tragedy. I am really sorry. Sincere condolences to all of Petr Kellner’s family.
Described today by Radio Prague International as “a real Czech business titan in the post-communist era,” Kellner began his rise in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s with the flash sale of state-owned companies. He remained active, finalizing the acquisition of CME, one of the region’s leading media companies with TV channels in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, at the end of 2020.
On Saturday evening, Alaska State soldiers were informed of a missing helicopter and quickly located the crash site at Knik Glacier, an area of outstanding natural beauty about 80 km from ‘Anchorage.
Although a survivor has been found, five have died, including Kellner and mountain skier Gregory Harms, 52, of Colorado, who updated his North Chugach Instagram account over the weekend, citing “l ‘huge effort’ to get to Alaska.
State soldiers confirmed that the helicopter was an Airbus AS350B3 belonging to Soloy Helicopters of Wasilla, Alaska, adding that the group had allegedly heliskied in the area.
Benjamin Larochaix, 50, of the Czech Republic, Sean McManamy, 38, of Alaska, and pilot Zachary Russell, 33, also of Alaska, died in the crash. The investigation is ongoing.
The Alaska Army National Guard said the lone survivor was currently receiving medical treatment at a hospital in the Anchorage area. The survivor is in “serious but stable condition,” according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety website.