Czech Billionaire Kretinsky acquires over one-fourth stake of West Ham United

Czech billionaire investor Daniel Kretinsky’s 1890s Holdings group has acquired a 27% stake in English Premier League soccer club West Ham United, a spokesman for the group said on Wednesday.

Kretinsky, who owns Czech top-flight club Sparta Prague, and his colleague Pavel Horsky have been appointed to the board of directors at West Ham.

“The agreement is a further improvement to the Club’s capital structure which will initially enable the reduction of its long-term debt and the ability to continue to direct funds generated into other key areas of focus,” West Ham said in a statement.

Kretinsky added: “I am delighted this detailed process has now been successfully concluded. I am passionate about football. I greatly appreciate and respect the exceptional history and tradition of West Ham United.”

The investment reportedly values the London club in the region of 600 million pounds ($812 million).

West Ham majority owners and co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan earlier this year turned down two takeover bids from PAI Capital, a group headed by Azerbaijani businessman Nasib Piriyev.

“David Sullivan and David Gold have always been very open about finding the right investors to join them on the journey as custodians of West Ham United,” said West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady.

“Daniel’s strong business acumen and football experience will be of huge benefit to the Club. We very much look forward to working with him and Pavel.”

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1890s Holdings is majority controlled by Kretinsky and his long-time business partner Patrik Tkac holds a 44% stake.

Kretinsky earned his fortune by building his energy group EPH into a major player in Europe, buying up unwanted coal power plants before expanding into other energy sources.

EPH had assets of 18.5 billion euros ($21.39 billion) in 2020 and posted revenue of 8.5 billion euros ($9.83 billion).

Kretinsky has expanded his business and geographical footprint in recent years with investments in French media and retail, in German wholesale retailer Metro, and in the Royal Mail and Sainsbury’s in the UK.

Kretinsky has co-owned Sparta Praha since 2004 and the club have since won four league titles, the last in 2014. They had won 32 before his arrival.

West Ham, which beat Liverpool on Sunday, is third in the Premier League standings with 23 points from 11 games, three points behind leader Chelsea. It travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on November 20 after the international break.

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