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Fertilizer mogul wins Czech election

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World Fertilizer,

Andrej Babis, the leader of the Czech Republic’s ANO, has won the country’s national election.

Reuters reports that Babis is the Czech Republic’s second richest man, with an empire consisting of chemicals, food processing, farming and media firms (as well as a restaurant with two Michelin stars in the South of France).

Babis had worked for Slovakia-based (and previously state-owned) trading firm Petrimex since the 1970s, before setting up Agrofert in 1993 as the parent company’s Czech unit. He took control of Agrofert in 1995 and has expanded it since, often through acquiring other companies.

In early 2017, Reuters claims that Babis moved ownership of the company, and his other firm SynBiol, to two trust funds. This was necessary because of new conflict-of-interest legislation that applied to him as finance minister at that time.

Zbynek Prusa, the Chairman of Agrofert, and Alexej Bilek, a board member, are two long-term collaborators of Babis and manage the two trust funds (AB private trust I and AB private trust II).

According to Reuters, the ANO leader’s firms receive both EU and national subsidies, as well as routine farming payments and investment aid. They also have a number of business deals with the public sector, and depend on government regulation in sectors such as biofuels.

In 2016, Agrofert had sales of 155.3 billion crowns and EBITDA of 14.7 billion crowns. Last year, it also reportedly received subsidies – mostly EU farming funded – of 1.5 billion crowns.

Products that Agrofert covers include fertilizers, sulfur, aromatic reactants, phenols, tar, oils, pigments, acids, salts, PVC, polymers, pesticides and urea.

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