Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Tomáš Kubeš
At the turn of the millennium Radovan Vávra (41) was Komerční banka’s general director. He was at the peak of his profession, but he evoked contradictory reactions. “The expert who led the bank through successful privatization,” some said. “The dandy who calls himself the best banker in the Czech Republic,” others said. It didn’t bother him. But he failed at a similar assignment – i.e., privatizing Union banka – and was recalled as director. After a period of depression, he’s back on the scene.
VÁVRA SAYS one of the turning points in his life was when he went from Citibank to Komerční banka to prepare it for privatization. Vávra’s methods were something of a shock for that institution, and his demeanor was typified in he greeting his business partners on roller blades, speaking openly about his income and weakness for fast cars. Although he got on many people’s nerves, he claims that he fulfilled his assignment. “We managed to turn this unsellable bank into a bride that was sold a year and a half later for over thrice its book value,” says Vávra, commenting on KB’s sale to Société Générale of France in 2001. But he wasn’t as successful with the sale of Union banka, which was to go through the same process as Komerční banka. He claims that this is because the state didn’t intend to reach an agreement with the shareholders and decided not to invest in the bank. When the bank came under forced administration in 2003, Vávra had to vacate the director’s chair.
There followed a period when he couldn’t find a job. “People either feared me or were glad that the big shot with the Ferrari had failed,” he laughs. After 15 years of working for others, he founded a company carrying his name that provides corporate consulting. “The client hires me to do a longterm analysis and suggest how to improve the operations of the firm,” Vávra explains. Apart from that he offers consultancy for investment projects, such as mergers and acquisitions. Among his clients are Reebok, Sazka, and Auto Štangl. “I became an entrepreneur by necessity, and I’m surprised by how well it’s going. My revenues in the first half year were CZK 3 million,” Vávra says. This father of a fifteenmonth old son recently reevaluated his priorities in life. “My biggest hobby is my family,” he admits. “Before, I couldn’t imagine spending a weekend evening at home, but now I can’t imagine being away!”