Austrian Risk-Taker Pecik Strikes Again With S Immo Windfall

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(Bloomberg) -- Ronny Pecik has done it again.

The Austrian investor completed an 11-month wager Wednesday as a go-between for developer S Immo AG, pocketing an estimated return of at least 45 percent and kicking off long-expected consolidation in the nation’s property sector.

“The music for S Immo has been playing for a while and nobody dared to go on the floor, until finally there was someone who took the risk and asked for the next dance,” said Klaus Vukovich, a Vienna-based banker at boutique adviser Alantra, who didn’t have a role in the transaction. “That’s what he does -- where others hesitate, he’s a catalyst.”

Pecik’s RPR Privatstiftung trust bought a 22 percent stake last year in S Immo in two installments from a company owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and from Erste Group Bank AG. The price wasn’t disclosed, but he may have paid around 200 million euros ($247 million), based on the share price on the days the purchases were reported.

Pecik borrowed some of the money from Austrian investor Rene Benko, who also bought S Immo shares. The men agreed Wednesday to sell their stakes to Immofinanz AG, which will probably seek a merger with S Immo and put its stake in a third Austrian developer, CA Immobilien Anlagen AG, up for sale yesterday. Pecik’s share of the purchase price is 293 million euros. Attempts to reach Pecik by telephone were unsuccessful.

Immigrant Millionaire

Pecik, a 56-year-old immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, dropped out of high school, trained as a power technician, moved into banking as a computer specialist and became an options trader at Bank Austria AG in the 1990s. He started buying shares with money earned in holiday jobs and earned his first million Austrian schilling by age 26.

His first big deal was 17 years ago and involved steelmaker Boehler-Uddeholm AG, for which he teamed up with lawyer Rudolf Fries. He later went after companies such as VA Technologie AG, Unaxis Holding AG and Sulzer AG, with partners including Mirko Kovats and Russia’s Victor Vekselberg.

Pecik’s most recent deal as an intermediary for a publicly traded company was the 2012 takeover of Telekom Austria AG by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB. Pecik bought a stake in 2011 in the Austrian firm, using options to cover his tracks, then sold it to Slim for 766 million euros. There too, he saw an opportunity and took it.

“It’s typically Austrian that people like the status quo and don’t have the courage to move,” Vukovich said. “All it takes is someone who says ‘Here’s the money, I’ll buy it.”’

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