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Czech billionaire Kretinsky expands investment
Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who has formed one of Europe’s largest energy groups for more than ten years, diversifies assets and invests in retail, media and other areas.
In 2009, Kretinsky participated in the launch of Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding (EPH) together with the Czech-Slovak financial group J&T and PPF, owned by the richest Czech Peter Kellner. Cretinsky has created a business in the energy sector, whose assets are spread throughout Europe, from Ireland to Italy.
EPH grew by squeezing out revenues from aging coal-fired power plants, and the group also has a key stake in Slovakia’s Eustream, a major transit country for Russian gas to Europe. Kretinsky told Reuters that heightened competition for energy deals has pushed him towards new goals over the past couple of years, including a stake in German retailer Metro, although energy remains the backbone of his business..
Responding to questions by email over self-isolation after contracting the coronavirus, a former investment bank lawyer said competition from pension and infrastructure funds, fewer generation deals, and increased risk from volatile CO2 prices have hurt growth opportunities in the energy sector.
«Energy will remain a key pillar of our operations and we will indeed look for ways to expand our presence there. However, we are less optimistic about our ability to do so.», – Kretinsky said in response to questions from Reuters. – Regarding the diversification strategy, I think the existing investments signal our way, but we need a few weeks to make a more structured announcement».
Kretinsky, who owns 10% of ProSiebenSat.1 Media, has denied rumors that he will team up with Italian Mediaset to bet on the German broadcaster.
«We do not act in concert with Mediaset», – said Kretinsky.
Kretinsky is the main shareholder of EPH, which received € 1.9bn ($ 2.05bn) in consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2018, according to the latest published data..
According to Forbes, Kretinsky, whose net worth is $ 3.4 billion, said that capital allocation in recent years has been split between renewable energy and electricity, and that future investments will be more development-related than acquisition-related, while possible minor sales.
When asked about outside investors, Kretinsky said that the group was considering inviting another «very little» to its EP Infrastructure division, in which Macquarie already has a stake.
«Most likely, we will postpone the decision as we are considering some other steps that now go against this deal.», – he said without specifying details.
In 2018, the share of Kretinsky and Chapter J&Patrick Tkach’s T in Equity German wholesaler Metro rose to just under 30%. They also own a stake in the French retailer Casino..
Cretinsky, who has also bought a minority stake in the French newspaper Le Monde and other French publications in recent years, expects the coronavirus outbreak to ultimately impact his retail and media investments..
The billionaire, who said he had mild symptoms, argued that some statistics overestimated the threat of the virus. But he added that any death is a tragedy, and government measures to combat the spread of the pandemic were right, as it bought time to prepare and strengthen the health system..
He predicted that the effects of quarantines could be contained where governments take action and provide relief to the economy, but said the second threat from the virus is changing consumer behavior..
«If (people) are afraid and adjust their consumer and economic behavior, we will see strong negative consequences and profound structural changes. Unfortunately, misinterpretation of the numbers and the associated panic work strongly against us.», – he stated.