Billionaire Kellner’s PPF Signals Deal Pipeline Intact After His Death

PPF Group NV signaled it will push ahead with potential banking, telecommunications and other corporate deals after its founder and majority owner was killed in a helicopter crash.

“All the transactions we’re looking at are progressing because the strategic sense is still there,” Jean-Pascal Duvieusart, a minority shareholder in PPF and head of its financial arm Home Credit Group BV, said in an interview without referring to any specific deal. “Should the parties be able to agree, then it’s very probable the given transaction will be executed.”

Petr Kellner, the richest Czech with a net worth of $15.7 billion, died on Saturday along with four other people during a heli-skiing vacation in Alaska. Over three decades, the reclusive billionaire had turned PPF into one of the most active investment companies in central and eastern Europe, with assets spanning finance, telecommunications, manufacturing, media and biotechnology.

PPF is trying to take over Prague-traded Moneta Money Bank AS and weighing a potential sale of a minority stake in its Cetin Group BV unit. While the exact future ownership structure of the sprawling business empire remains unclear, analysts at Ceska Sporitelna AS and J&T Banka AS have said they expect no immediate impact on pending transactions.

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On Monday, Moneta slid 1.7%, the most in two months, but held above the 80 koruna per share PPF offered in a recent buyout of a minority stake, the first step toward Kellner’s plan to gain majority control in the Czech lender.

Billionaire Kellner’s PPF Signals Deal Pipeline Intact After His Death

Duvieusart said individual parts of PPF had enough autonomy and decision-making powers to keep developing their business. The 54-year-old executive has worked closely with Kellner for over 20 years, including on the proposed combination of Home Credit’s Czech and Slovak assets with Moneta.

“I’m far from saying that Petr’s personality and skills have not been instrumental in making some of the past transactions happen,” Duvieusart said. “But the primary driver of these transactions is that they make strategic sense for PPF and for the counterparty, and therefore they can move forward.”

PPF’s recent large deals:

  • 2013-2014: Italy’s Generali buys PPF’s stake in their joint venture for $3.3 billion. The deal includes the biggest Czech insurer, Kellner’s first major investment after the 1989 fall of communism.
  • 2014: PPF buys a majority stake in the biggest Czech phone and internet company from Spain’s Telefonica for $3.4 billion.
  • 2018: PPF buys telecommunications assets in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia from Norway’s Telenor for $3.4 billion.
  • 2020: PPF buys Central European Media from AT&T and others for $2.1 billion. The most valuable asset is Czech TV station Nova, which Central European Media bought from PPF in 2004 for $642 million.

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