Czech Billionaire Raises Foot Locker Stake to Become Top Holder

Daniel Kretinsky, the Czech billionaire who invested in Macy’s Inc. earlier this year, has boosted his stake in Foot Locker Inc., making him the sneaker store chain’s top shareholder.

Kretinsky’s Vesa Equity Investment now owns 10.3% of the company’s common shares, according to a U.S. regulatory filing. The firm previously revealed a 6% stake in May. Its current stake in the New York-based company has a market value of about $400 million.

Czech Billionaire Raises Foot Locker Stake to Become Top Holder

Representatives for Vesa Equity and Foot Locker didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Kretinsky, 45, has invested in a number of companies this year, including the U.K.’s J Sainsbury Plc and Royal Mail Plc. He disclosed a stake in Macy’s in May but sold most of his holding the following month after a surge in the company’s share price. Kretinsky has a net worth of about $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Foot Locker, like other retailers, is recovering from the impact of the pandemic. The company in March withdrew its forecast for this year and said it would temporarily shutter stores in most parts of the globe although it reported third-quarter earnings this month that beat analysts’ estimates. Foot Locker’s shares have more than doubled since the market turmoil earlier this year, leaving them down 1.6% since Jan. 1.

Kretinsky, who tested positive for Covid-19 in March, began his investment career as a lawyer in a local private equity group J&T two decades ago. He partnered with Petr Kellner to start up his own firm about 11 years ago. Since then, a debt-fueled acquisition spree turned his Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding from a small Czech utility into one of the biggest power companies in central Europe. His portfolio includes energy and media assets and the Sparta Prague soccer team.

“We are already investing,” Kretinsky told Bloomberg in April. “We simply believe that the current market is undervaluing certain very interesting and important companies.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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