Billionaire Babiš mulls political debut

Agro-chemicals magnate Andrej Babiš says he could be driven to enter politics but has not yet decided which party suits him

Head of the Czech-based agro-chemical empire Agrofert Holding and one of the richest businessmen in the country, Andrej Babiš, says he is weighing up going into politics because he is so disenchanted with the state of the country.

“When I see the mess here, I cannot exclude the possibility that I will become engaged in politics,” Babiš said in an interview with the weekly Ekonom. The man whose wealth is estimated at around Kč 18 billion said he was still not certain which party he might back.

Babiš has traditionally been close to the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (ČSSD), but is also said to be close to some of the patrons of the main government party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), and his views on the European Union put him on the same wavelength as eurosceptic President Václav Klaus .

The food and chemicals billionaire distanced himself from another Czech businessman who went into politics, Public Affairs (VV) party (VV) de facto chairman Vít Bárta, the outgoing transport minister whose cash payments to fellow MPs have sparked a crisis that threatens to topple the government.

“Above all, I will not become engaged in politics in the same way as Mr. Bárta, whose secret projects to enrich himself are now known to all of the Czech Republic,” Babiš said. Bárta made it clear that his political involvement was a way of nakedly advancing his business interests.

Agrofert is the biggest agricultural and food group in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the second-largest chemical group in the Czech Republic and second-biggest producer nitrate fertilizer producer in Europe.