News hit the headlines today that Czech billionaire, Daniel Kretinsky is interested in purchasing a 27% stake of West Ham United, with the view to end up as majority stakeholder.
Here’s everything you need to know about Kretinsky and what it could mean for the club.
Who is Daniel Kretinsky?
Let’s begin by taking a look at the man himself.
Daniel Kretinsky is a 46-year-old Czech billionaire. According to Forbes, he is worth $4 billion; significantly more than Gold and Sullivan’s combined worth of £1.6 billion (approx. $2.2 billion).
Kretinsky has built an empire of investments, many of which have baffled experts but then proven to be a resounding success, earning him the title of the ‘Czech Sphinx’ – I don’t get it either.
Having trained as a lawyer, Kretinsky joined a private equity firm in 1999. By 2003, he became a partner and just one year after this, he purchased a 40% stake in Sparta Prague, where he has remained the club’s President since.
In 2009, he bought a 20% stake in EPH; a business that invests in energy. Over the next 7 years, he grew his share to 94% and the business’ assets have grown significantly.
With investment into Czech News Centre and a 49% share of French newspaper, Le Monde, he has added media businesses to his portfolio.
Alongside many other investments, Kretinsky has more than a 15% share in Royal Mail and has the largest single stake in Sainsbury’s, at almost 10%.
His EP UK Investments firm had to take out a loan of £123 million from its European parent company this year, after bets on the price of gas did not pay off, however it is unlikely this will have any significant impact on his overall worth.
Background in football
As a majority shareholder and President of AC Sparta Prague, Kretinsky has 17 years of experience in the world of football. Sparta Prague have enjoyed success over the years, including finishing in the top three in the Czech First League for the last three years.
Kretinsky has also shown interest in investing in other clubs, having a €600 million offer rejected by AC Milan in 2018, as well as showing interest in Chelsea and AS Roma.
Kretinsky looks pretty squeaky clean from my extensive Googling, which is fantastic news. He seemed to be linked to a misunderstanding around the Panama Papers Scandal, however most other articles talk about the great job he’s done with his investments.
His girlfriend is Anna Kellernova, daughter of deceased Czech billionaire, Petr Kellner. Finally, on March 30th 2020, he became the ‘highest profile person to be infected in Czech Republic’s COVID epidemic’. What a claim to fame!
Kretinsky is in talks to buy a 27% stake in West Ham, valuing West Ham at around £600 million; significantly more than PAI Capital valued the club at earlier in the year.
It is understood that this is with the aim to increase his stake at the club and become a majority shareholder. If this purchase takes place after March 2023, it would help to avoid the windfall tax clause which would require GSB to pay a percentage of the profit made on the sale.
Having increased his stake in EPH, this approach is nothing new to Kretinsky, giving him the opportunity to invest and play a key part in decisions before becoming the majority shareholder.
Simply put, West Ham has enormous potential. Here’s why:
Potential being noticed
We were listed as the 18th most valuable club in the world by Forbes this year, having been in the Premier League for 10 consecutive years.
After a sixth place finish last season, we are top of our group in the Europa League and have just made it into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. Plus we have the absolute wizard that is David Moyes.
In terms of both performance and finances, there is plenty of unlocked potential. Planning permission was recently granted to increase the London Stadium’s capacity to 62,500, making our stadium bigger than Arsenal’s and giving us a higher seating capacity than Spurs, as well as having the ability to grow it by a further 4,500 in the future.
What could this mean for West Ham
If successful, this could begin the end the reign of Gold, Sullivan and Brady which began in 2010.
Kretinsky’s success in football and business, as well as his investments in media could be a winning combination. The great news for fans is that he is known for not being shy to invest significant sums of money; something that could help to truly take the club to the next level.
Things are about to get very interesting.