Yiannis Latsis

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Yiannis Latsis (Greek: Γιάννης Λάτσης; September 14, 1910, Katakolo – April 17, 2003, Athens), also John Spyridon Latsis, was a Greek shipping tycoon notable for his great wealth, influential friends, and charitable activities.

Biography[edit]

Latsis was born in Katakolo — a fishing village in the Elis — (although his origins are in Epirus), the seventh of 21 children, the son of Spiro Latsis and Aphrodite Efthimiou.[1] He was educated at the Pyrgos School of Commerce and the School for Merchant Navy Captains.[2]

He started as a deckhand, eventually working his way up to ship's captain in the merchant marine.[2] He bought his first cargo vessel in 1938 and by the 1960s, owned a fleet of ships.[3] In the late 1960s, he diversified his business to include oil — establishing Petrola — and construction, building (among other things) oil refineries in Greece and Saudi Arabia,[1][3] before gradually expanding into banking and financial services.[3] His European Financial Group owns banks in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Monaco, the Channel Islands and Greece.

In 1990, he hosted the G7 Economic Conference at Bridgewater House, Westminster, London.[1] He was a close friend of Charles, Prince of Wales, twice loaning him the use of his yacht Alexandros, firstly in 1991 for a second honeymoon with the Princess of Wales, and secondly in 2002 for a cruise with Camilla Parker-Bowles.[3] Others to whom he lent the ship included former President George H. W. Bush, Colin Powell, and Marlon Brando.[3] He also maintained close ties with the Saudi royal family.[3]

The year of his death, Forbes magazine ranked him 101st on its list of the world's richest people, with a fortune estimated at US $5.4 billion.[3]

Business empire[edit]

The Latsis commercial empire has been closely involved with German firm Hochtief in both constructing and managing Spata airport. Through Hellenic Petroleum, one of Greece's largest oil companies – in which another partner is the Russian oil giant LUKoil – it holds the contract for all fuel supplies to the airport, through an EU-funded pipeline built by a Latsis engineering company. Hellenic Petroleum, according to its own accounts, in 2000, paid $612 million to acquire a 34 percent interest in the Athens Airport Fuel Pipeline Company.

A Latsis company also has a 50 percent stake in the huge contract for running most of the airport's "ground-handling" services – almost everything except control of the aircraft themselves.

Latsis's development arm, Lamda, is a partner with Hochtief in a series of vast, part-EU funded motorway projects across Greece, as part of the "Trans European Network". And between 1999 and 2004, during the time when Spata airport was completed, the commission last week revealed[citation needed] that the giant EFG Eurobank Ergasias banking group, controlled by Latsis family interests, held an exclusive contract to handle all EU structural funds coming to Greece, totalling €28 billion.

Also, the private airline business PrivatAir is part of the Latsis Group.

Charities[edit]

His charitable works began with the establishment of the Latsis Scholarships Institute in 1970[2] and also included the provision of aid to earthquake victims[3] and the creation of the Latsis Foundation.

Awards[edit]

He was awarded the Golden Cross from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix by Greece.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Latsis married Erietta Tsoukala. They had three children: Spiros, Marianna and Margarita.[2] Spiros is a trustee of the Friends of Europe, an EU-wide lobbying organisation for greater political integration. His grandson Paris Latsis (son of Marianna) was the former fiancé of Paris Hilton.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Michael Moschos (April 18, 2003). "Obituary: John Latsis". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Shipping tycoon Yiannis (John) Latsis dies of old age". Embassy of Greece, Washington DC. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Paul Lewis (April 18, 2003). "John S. Latsis, 92, Billionaire Who Built Empire in Shipping". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 

External links[edit]