Seoul awards honorary citizenship to American-German billionaire

Seoul awards honorary citizenship to American-German billionaire
PHOTO: Reuters

The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday awarded honorary citizenship to "the homeless billionaire" Nicolas Berggruen, in appreciation of his contribution to the city's management and reform initiatives.

Named one of the world's richest people by the Financial Times, the billionaire is renowned for his interest in philanthropy work and social reforms. He founded the Berggruen Institute, an advisory group that worked with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other global leaders.

"I believe it is going to be a great opportunity to enhance the partnership between the Seoul city government and the Berggruen Institute. I am confident we will have a thorough discussion about the city's governance and its development," said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.

Despite earning his fortune through his private investment company Berggruen Holdings, he earned his "homeless billionaire" nickname for living in hotels and not owning a home.

It was Berggruen's third meeting with Park. Berggruen visited Seoul in 2013 and Park met Berggruen in New York in 2014. In 2015, Park invited Berggruen to Seoul before the billionaire attended a meeting in China to discuss global governance.

The award ceremony was attended by Turki bin Abdullah, a member of the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia and the former governor of Riyadh Province, and Dawn Nakagawa, vice chairman of Berggruen Institute.

On Wednesday, Seoul city awarded honorary citizenship to other foreign prominent figures including Helene Lebrun, a former French literature professor at Sogang University in Seoul who translated late female author Park Wan-seo's works into French, and Zhou Yu Bo, the head of People's Daily Online Korea who was recognised for his media works that enhanced Sino-Korea relations.

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