Czech tycoon Daniel Kretinsky acquired more than a quarter of West Ham United and became the youngest billionaire to buy into the English Premier League, the world’s richest local football competition.
West ham Said Wednesday that Kretinsky is buying a 27 percent stake in the club, which currently sits in third place in the division.
Kretinsky made the investment through the 1890s Czech investment group and will sit on the board with business partner Pavel Horsky.
“I am delighted that this detailed process has now been successfully completed,” Kretinsky said. “I am passionate about football.”
He paid around £ 160m for the interest and valued the club at around £ 600m, or £ 700m including debt, according to two people familiar with the deal. West Ham and Kretinsky declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.
The deal is a statement of confidence in the team’s prospects and a sign of the lingering appetite among overseas investors for Premier League clubs, even after the revenue suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.
This follows the acquisitions last month of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and a minority stake in Chinese owned Wolverhampton Wanderers by Chicago-based Peak6 Investments. U.S. businessman John Textor took a stake in Crystal Palace in August.
Kretinsky began his career at the Czech bank J&T before moving to energy, where he bought a range of infrastructure and power assets via his vehicle EPH.
He has since diversified into other sectors from retail to media, with investments in companies including British supermarket J Sainsbury’s, Royal Mail and the French newspaper Le Monde. He is a co-owner of Sparta Prague, one of his home country’s biggest football clubs.
West Ham said the deal would allow him to reduce his long-term debt, underscoring how the pandemic has forced clubs to seek capital to bolster their balance sheets.
The club said in October it had received planning permission to increase the capacity of the London Stadium, its home ground, by 2,500 seats to 62,500, as it looks like it will increase the number to 67,000. Unlike many Premier League rivals, the club does not own its home stadium.
“We are always looking to continue to progress and Daniel’s involvement brings with it investments that strengthen the club’s position,” said West Ham vice-president Karren Brady, “and in turn will help develop the club. key areas of focus. ”
British entrepreneurs David Sullivan and David Gold remain in control of the club as its largest shareholders. Sullivan’s stake will drop to 38.8 percent from 51.5 percent, with Gold’s down to about 25 percent. Their investment in the club in 2010 valued at £ 105m.
A stake in Tripp Smith, a senior manager at private equity firm Blackstone, will drop from 10 percent to 8 percent.
Kretinsky’s co-ownership of Sparta Prague could hamper any attempt to build a majority stake in West Ham due to rules set by European football’s governing body Uefa that prevent one person from owning clubs competing in the same competition, such as the Champions League.