Finance minister‘s business empire Agrofert flourishing

02-02-2015

The Agrofert Group, a Czech food, agriculture, chemistry and media conglomerate, owned by Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš is flourishing. Its unconsolidated revenues last year rose by 3 billion crowns to an overall 239 billion crowns year-on-year, a spokesman for the group told reporters.

Andrej Babiš, photo: Filip JandourekAndrej Babiš, photo: Filip Jandourek Agrofert’s gross unconsolidated profit, minus dividend yields, went up by 19 percent to 6.8 billion crowns, the group’s spokesman Karel Hanzelka reported. According to available figures all the group’s companies are profit-making, with chemicals producers topping the list. The top performer in their ranks last year was the German agrochemical products manufacturer SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz which posted a 2.9 billion crown profit, up by 1.3 billion from 2013.

Agrofert comprises 223 companies and is among the top business conglomerates in the country, the biggest entity in the agriculture and food production sector, second in the chemical sector and a powerful player in the areas of forestry and media. Altogether the group now employs 34 thousand people.

Among the fast-expanding conglomerate’s most significant acquisitions in 2014 are the Hungarian firm NT Kft which makes sunflower oil and the Czech media group Londa, with its nation-wide radio channel Impuls.

Agrofert owner, ANO party leader and Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, has repeatedly come under fire for conflict of interests and accumulating extensive political, economic and media powers, but he has consistently rejected criticism. Babiš claims that all his companies enter into regular open tenders and none come under greater scrutiny than those of the Agrofert Group. He further points out that he has no influence on decision-making since he resigned as the corporation’s CEO in 2014 in order to take up the post of finance minister and says that he does not in any way interfere with the content of his media companies.

The conglomerate has posted big profits in previous years and Andrej Babiš took his ANO party to the top by promising voters to run the country as he would his own business.

02-02-2015