West Ham shareholder in £3.5 billion French shopping spree

1 Aug, 2023
written by Sean Whetstone

West Ham shareholder and Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is in talks to buy Atos’s loss-making legacy operations in a 2 billion-euro (£1.70billion) deal that will refocus the struggling French company on its cybersecurity and cloud assets, and cut its debt.

Following the sale to Kretinsky’s EP Equity Investment (EPEI) vehicle, the Tech Foundations business will use the Atos brand, while the current listed entity will group the assets the French state deems strategic, such as cybersecurity unit BDS and supercomputers, under the name Eviden.

Kretinsky, who made his fortune in the energy sector, is expanding his vast empire in Europe and has been on a buying spree in France. In November 2021 the Czech billionaire bought 27% of West Ham’s holding company WH Holding.

West Ham financial accounts reveal that Kretinsky paid £125m for 20% of West Ham shares in a rights issue and then paid another £43.75m for a further 7% from other directors, his 928 shares cost him £168.75m in total.

Four days ago, Kretinksy sealed a £1 billon deal with French retailer Casino  to avert bankruptcy, but its shares fell 11% as it reiterated shareholders would be “massively diluted”.

Under the Casino agreement 1.2 billion euros of new money will be injected into Casino and its debt of 6.4 billion euros (£5.5 billion) will be restructured. A consortium led by Kretinsky will end up owning between up to 53% of the Casino shares. Casino shares are currently valued at 2.54 Euros making Kretinsky’s share worth around £559m as it stands.

Last month  France’s Vivendi confirmed it agreed to sell its French publishing unit Editis to the International Media Invest (IMI) group, a subsidiary of Czech media invest (CMI) co-founded by billionaire Daniel Kretinsky. The £787m French publisher deal is expected to be completed by October.

Forbes lists Kretinsky personal net wealth as £9.5bn ( £7.41 billion)


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