Daniel Křetínský, the billionaire known as the Czech Sphinx, has quietly become the largest shareholder in Royal Mail, heaping more pressure on the troubled postal service as it faces calls for a break-up.
Křetínský, who owns Sparta Prague football club and who made his fortune in energy, has amassed a CZK 7,4 billion stake in the historic FTSE250 company.
The company is seen as particularly vulnerable to a break-up because it has been without a permanent chief executive since May when it ousted former boss Rico Back, who had overseen a decline in letter volumes and a breakdown in relations with unions.
Křetínský has been slowly building his stake and now owns more than 13 percent of Royal Mail.
The Czech businessman, who controls Vesa with his business partner Patrik Tkac, made his fortune in energy in Eastern Europe. His company EPH then embarked on a major expansion, snapping up energy transmission networks and gas pipelines, as well as power plants in the UK.
EPH now owns four UK power plants: Eggborough in North Yorkshire, Lynemouth in Northumberland, Langage in Devon, and South Humber Bank in Lincolnshire. In March, the company also bought an underground gas facility in Hampshire. And Kretinsky has recently bought stakes in the US department store chain Macy’s and the retailer Foot Locker.
About Royal Mail
Royal Mail is a British postal service and courier company, originally established in 1516. The company’s subsidiary Royal Mail Group Limited operates the brands Royal Mail (letters) and Parcelforce Worldwide (parcels).
The company provides mail collection and delivery services throughout the UK. Letters and parcels are deposited in a post or parcel boxes or are collected in bulk from businesses, this is then transported to Royal Mail sorting offices.
Royal Mail owns and maintains the UK’s distinctive red pillar boxes, first introduced in 1852, many of which bear the initials of the reigning monarch.
Royal Mail was privatized in 2013 and the Coalition Government floated the company on the stock market.