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How Daniel Kretinskey made his billions

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West Ham shareholder Daniel Křetínský was born in Brno, Czech Republic in 1975 to parents Mojmír Křetínský, an informatics professor at Masaryk University, and his mother, Michaela Židlická, is a former justice of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic. His stepfather, who raised him, is a photographer named Vladimír Židlický

He studied at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Law and at the same faculty became a Bachelor of Political Science. After his studies, he worked as a trainee lawyer in Brno’s Gottweis & Partner law office. It was while at Law school he met his influential ex-partner and mother of his son Klára Cetlová who later became the deputy minister of justice for supervision and justice in the Czech Republic government.

It was Klara and her close friendship with Iva, the wife of one of the co-owners of the financial group J&T, Dušan Palcr that started his path to becoming a billionaire.

Křetínský and Palcr met and became friends in the mid-1990s through dinner parties with their partners. This friendship brought Daniel Křetínský to the J&T financial group in 1999, where he rose to become a partner in 2003, sharing profits of the deals he worked on.

One of his earliest big deals was with a semi-state energy company called CEZ (about 70 per cent of shares are owned by the Czech Republic), where Křetínský managed to find many allies across all levels of management. That deal made me wealthy and put his name on the map.

In 2004, Křetínský convinced the majority owners of the J&T group to buy the Sparta Prague football club.

2009 was a turning point in Daniel Křetínský’s career when he arranged two hugely profitable deals for the J&T Group. He negotiated the purchase of both the German mining company Mibrag and the Czech assets of the UK company International Power (today Engie Energy Company) for ČEZ.

As a reward for these deals, Daniel Křetínský acquired 20 percent of the newly formed EPH (Energy and Industrial Holding) group, alongside J&T (40 percent) and the PPF group of the richest Czech businessman, Petr Kellner, now deceased (40 percent).

EPH embarked on an acquisition spree across Europe, acquiring more mining companies and, most importantly, a 49 percent stake in Slovak transit pipelines, which pushed the value of the EPH group and Křetínský’s assets and his net wealth significantly upwards.

In 2014, EPH bought out PPF’s stake for about €1.25 billion. This increased the stake of the other shareholders, bringing Křetínský’s share to 37 percent and that of Patrik Tkáč, a key figure in the J&T group, to 37 percent.

Two years later, part of the stake in one branch of EPH holding was bought by the Australian company Macquarie. The most recent publicly announced ownership changes in the entire EPH holding and a number of other related entities took place at the end of 2020. After their implementation, Křetínský owned 50 percent plus one share of EPH, Patrik Tkáč 44 percent minus one share, and the remaining six per cent belongs to the group’s top managers.

After a series of investments in energy sources of all types (from nuclear to coal to so-called sustainable), the power plants of EPH Holding have a total installed capacity of 26 GWe, which is significantly more than the sum of all energy sources in the Czech Republic. Other huge assets are in energy distribution, industry and other related sectors.

At the same time, however, Křetínský and Tkáč also jointly invested in different sectors. Together they have bought and sold large volumes of shares in global companies such as Foot Locker and Macy’s. Two large investments stand out. They own more than 45 per cent of the German Metro AG supermarket chain and more than a quarter –  and the largest – stake in the UK’s Royal Mail. They made a similarly sized investment in the French retail chain Casino.

Kretinsky later took majority (94 per cent) ownership of EPH. He is also a chairman and 60 per cent shareholder of EP Industries, which is a rail and construction supplier.

He later went on to establish an investment vehicle VESA Equity Investment, which holds stakes in both Refinitiv and Sainsbury’s.

The rest as they say is history with US Forbes now estimating his net wealth at $9.3 billion or £7.28 billion with the 2024 Sunday Times Rich List suggesting he is worth £6bn making him the 33rd richest person in the UK.

The Czech Billionaire became a West Ham shareholder in 2021 Kretinsky paid £125m for 20% of West Ham shares in a new rights issue, then paid another £43.75m for a further 7% from other directors. His combined Investment in West Ham was worth £168.75m.

Since then he has kept his Premier League investment at arm’s length allowing Jiri Svarc and Pavel Horkey – his right-hand men within the Premier League club make his decisions.

He attends a handful of West Ham games each year and admits his first love is Sparta Prague where he is chairman, he plays down a full takeover of West Ham telling sources he believes an owner should have a concrete connection to his club, the word ‘guilty’ being used when explaining how he would feel to take over West Ham while he still considers himself something of an outsider.

Until last year he was dating Czech champion Show jumper Anna Kellnerová who was the daughter of late Czech billionaire and his business partner Petr Kellner.

Kellner who died in a helicopter crash in 2021 was worth $17.5m at the time of his death making him the richest person in the Czech Republic, he and Anna have now separated.

It now appears the West  Ham Shareholder is on the verge of acquiring Royal Mail for £3.5 Billion

Křetínský is already the biggest shareholder in IDS which owns Royal Mail, with a 27.5% stake, having first bought shares in the firm in 2020.

Křetínský’s EP Group’s initial bid, at 320p per share, was rejected, but after further negotiations, IDS said it received a 360p-per-share proposal that it would be ‘minded to’ accept.

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I am Season Ticket Holder in West stand lower at the London Stadium and before that, I used to stand in the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower Row R seat 159 in the Boleyn Ground and in the Eighties I stood on the terraces of the old South Bank. I am a presenter on the West Ham Podcast called MooreThanJustaPodcast.co.uk. A Blogger on WestHamTillIdie.com a member of the West Ham Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), Founder of a Youtube channel called Mr West Ham Football at http://www.youtube.com/MrWestHamFootball,

I am also the associate editor here at Claret and Hugh.

Life Long singer of bubbles! Come on you Irons!

Follow me at @Westhamfootball on twitter

0 comments

  • Hammeroo says:

    All very interesting but you could have summarised it all with the words “Daniel Kretinsky is a rich *******”. 🤣

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