Czech tycoon Daniel Kretinsky has snapped up a 27% stake in West Ham football club, in a £180m ($242m) to £200m move that could possibly pave the way for a full takeover deal.
The billionaire energy mogul, who also owns Sparta Prague, acquired the shares through his investment vehicle 1890s Holdings, making him the club’s second largest shareholder.
He will join the board of West Ham FC, with his colleague Pavel Horsky, alongside West Ham co-chairs David Sullivan and David Gold, and vice-chair and The Apprentice judge Karren Brady.
The purchase has reduced Sullivan’s total shareholding from 51.5% to 38.8%, Gold’s by 10% to 25.1% and Tripp Smith’s by 2% to 8%, with the number of shares in the hands of other investors falling from 3.4% to 1.1%.
West Ham, who has rejected two bids in the past year from a private equity firm PAI Capital, said the deal would help it to pay down its long-term debt and direct funds into "other key areas of focus".
The deal now values the club at up to £700m.
“I am delighted this detailed process has now been successfully concluded. I am passionate about football,” Kretinsky said, who attended the London Stadium on Sunday to witness West Ham defeat Liverpool 3-2.
“I greatly appreciate and respect the exceptional history and tradition of West Ham United as well as its loyal and passionate supporter base and also the highly inspiring role it plays in many social programmes and initiatives.”
“The development and growth of the club in recent years has been clear for everyone to see and I am delighted to be part of what I believe is a very exciting future ahead.”
Kretinsky’s other investments also include Royal Mail (RMG.L), of which he is the largest shareholder, Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and France’s Le Monde newspaper. Forbes recently valued his personal wealth at nearly £3bn.
Meanwhile, Brady said: “We are always looking to continue to progress and Daniel’s involvement brings investment which strengthens the club’s position and in turn will assist in the development of the club’s key areas of focus.
“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, and 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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