https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sainsbury-s-joins-royal-mail-on-billionaire-s-shopping-list-w7stv83rzSainsbury’s joins Royal Mail on billionaire’s shopping list
Friday September 18 2020, 12.01am BST, The Times
A Czech billionaire set the hares running in the grocery sector yesterday by declaring that he held a stake of more than 3 per cent stake in J Sainsbury.
Shares in the supermarket rose by 6p, or 3.3 per cent, to close at 191¼p as Daniel Kretinsky’s Vesa Equity Investment vehicle became the company’s fourth biggest shareholder, with a 3.05 per cent holding worth about £130 million.
Mr Kretinsky, who forged one of Europe’s largest energy groups in more than a decade of deals, has been diversifying, looking at the retail and media sectors for more investment opportunities.In recent months, he has made waves by building the biggest shareholding in Royal Mail. In March he bought a stake of 3.1 per cent and by July Vesa Equity had lifted its stake to 13.1 per cent. His stake, which he built during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, cost him more than £200 million, but is now worth more than £300 million.
Vesa Equity’s portfolio also includes stakes in Foot Locker, the American footwear retailer, and Macy’s, the US department stores chain. Another vehicle he owns, EP Global Commerce, is a big shareholder in Metro, a German wholesaler, after having had a €5.9 billion for the company rebuffed in June last year. This week EP revealed plans to make a fresh bid.
Forbes estimates that Mr Kretinsky, 45, has a fortune of $3.4 billion. He owns and runs EPH, central Europe’s biggest energy group, and has a stake in Le Monde, the French newspaper.
He has failed to make clear his intentions for Royal Mail, although analysts suggested that he may push for a disposal of GLS, its European parcels division. Deutsche Bank fuelled speculation of a move in May when it told its clients to hold on to Royal Mail shares in case Mr Kretinsky launched a takeover bid that could drive up the company’s value.
Branislav Miskovic, of Vesa Equity Investment, said that Sainbury’s was an attractive prospect despite the highly competitive nature of the UK grocery market. Kantar figures showed Sainsbury’s market share falling to 14.9 per cent in the 12 weeks to September 8, down from 15.3 per cent in the equivalent period last year. Its till sales rose by 8 per cent.