Czech tycoon Kretinsky enters steel business with 20% stake in Thyssenkrupp

Czech tycoon Kretinsky enters steel business with 20% stake in Thyssenkrupp
The Czech energy tycoon already has substantial investments in Germany, including the LEAG coal mines and power plants group. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera April 28, 2024

Czech energy and media oligarch Daniel Kretinsky’s EP Corporate Group announced last week that it will acquire 20% of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe.

“The parties agreed not to disclose any valuation of the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the current fiscal year of ThyssenKrupp AG,” Kretinsky’s spokesperson and member of the board at Kretinsky’s Czech Media Invest, Daniel Castvaj, said in a press release.

EPCG will acquire 20% and, in addition, is in talks to acquire a further 30% of the steel business in a pursuit of “forming a 50:50 joint venture,” the press release reads.

“Reaching an agreement on the acquisition of the 20% share in ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is an initial step on the envisaged path that shall eventually lead towards a bigger leap in the planned strategic partnership,” Kretinsky commented.

“We are convinced that this joint venture concept will establish a more resilient position for ThyssenKrupp Steel,” added the Czech billionaire, who is continuing with an extraordinary shopping spree across Europe following the energy crisis.

Miguel Lopez, chairman of the executive board of ThyssenKrupp AG, stated that  “our goal is a future concept that leads to economic independence and business success for ThyssenKrupp Steel, meets the requirements of climate protection, avoids compulsory redundancies and is widely accepted”.

“Together, we want to create a high-performance, profitable and future-oriented steel company that reduces the costs of decarbonisation to a more competitive level and thus accelerates the green transformation of the steel industry on the way to CO2 neutrality,” Lopez also stated, praising EPCG as “indispensable strong energy partner for this”.

Kretinsky already has substantial investments in Germany, where the LEAG coal mines and power plants group, part of EP Holding, expects to receive CZK44bn (€1.74bn) in payments from the German government for scaling down its coal activities in Germany.

The acquisition also comes as the European steel industry tries to shake off the challenges posed by the energy crisis, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and competition from Asian rivals.

Kretinsky himself has repeatedly criticised the EU for the scale of its green energy ambitions in Czech media, where Czech Media Invest controls one of the two largest publishing houses, Czech News Centre.

ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is one of the world’s major producers of carbon steel flat products and the largest flat steel producer in Germany. It employs around 27,000 people.

Companies controlled by EPCG have revenues of around €100bn and annual Ebitda of €8bn, Castvaj noted.  

Earlier this week, Kretinsky’s flagship EP Holding (EPH) reported an Ebitda of €3.6bn in 2023. EPH is owned 56% by Kretinsky and EP Corporate Group and 44% by J&T Energy Holding of the Slovak financial group J&T.