Jesus de Polanco, 77, a media giant credited with helping restore Spain's independent press after the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in the 1970s, died Saturday in Madrid, his flagship newspaper El Pais announced.
De Polanco, the billionaire chairman of the powerful Spanish media conglomerate Grupo PRISA and one of Spain's most influential people, died of an unspecified rheumatic disease, El Pais reported.
De Polanco co-founded El Pais and founded Grupo PRISA, which also owns radio and TV stations and publishing companies. He was close to the ruling Socialist Party. Grupo PRISA is the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world, El Pais said.
The newspaper was founded in 1976, the year after Franco's death, and quickly became Spain's most-read newspaper as the country returned to democracy. It remains its top-selling daily.
De Polanco ranked 287th on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires, published in March, with a net worth of $3 billion.
Born Nov. 7, 1929, in Madrid, De Polanco studied law before turning to publishing. Earlier this year he designated his son Ignacio Polanco Moreno to succeed him as Grupo PRISA chairman.