Czech billionaire who bought Macy’s stake just acquired 6% of Foot Locker

Daniel Kretinsky is betting on beleaguered U.S. retail

National /
May.May 20, 2020 10:15 AM
Daniel Kretinsky and a Foot Locker store (Credit: Getty)

Daniel Kretinsky and a Foot Locker store (Credit: Getty)

Daniel Kretinsky’s shopping spree continues, this time at Foot Locker.

Earlier this month, the Czech investor bought a 5-percent stake in Macy’s department store and now he’s added a 6-percent stake in Foot Locker, Bloomberg reported. Kretinsky’s bet on the shoe company is valued at about $169 million.

The 44-year-old billionaire — known as the “Czech sphinx” because of his inscrutable demeanor — said he plans to work with Macy’s management to turnaround its business, though he did not comment on his plans for Foot Locker, according to the publication. His investment vehicle is called Vesa Equity Investment.

Foot Locker temporarily shuttered most its stores and was among a group of retailers not paying rent costs as of April.

Retail rent collection among major chains plunged to 58 percent in April, the first full month since the coronavirus shuttered businesses across the U.S. That’s down from 96 percent during the same period last year, a report found. Both March and April saw record-low retail spending, dropping 8.7 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively.

Kretinsky has been eyeing troubled retailers for some time. In 2019, he invested in a troubled French grocery store chain, Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA. He also made a takeover offer to German wholesale company Metro, of which he owns a nearly 11-percent stake, but his offer was rejected, according to the Financial Times.

Kretinsky is a former bank attorney who made his fortune off deals and subsequent holdings in the energy sector. He’s been diversifying his portfolio of late and owns stakes in media companies, including the publishing group behind Le Monde newspaper, and soccer team AC Sparta Prague. He made headlines in March after he revealed testing positive for Covid-19 and going into self-quarantine, making him the most prominent figure in the Czech Republic to contract the virus. [Bloomberg] — Erin Hudson


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