DANIEL KRETINSKY has completed his purchase of a 27 per cent stake of West Ham United to become their second largest shareholder.
Kretinsky, 46, has now joined the board with his business associate Pavel Horsky, along with joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold and vice-chair Karren Brady.
“I am delighted this detailed process has now been successfully concluded,” he said.
“I am passionate about football. I greatly appreciate and respect the exceptional history and tradition of West Ham United as well as its loyal and passionate supporter base and also the highly inspiring role it plays in many social programmes and initiatives.”
The Czech businessman, believed to be worth £3billion, already has a stranglehold on British business.
He owns the most shares in Royal Mail and second most in supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.
In 2004, he became chairman of Czech giants Sparta Prague, and he’s a media tycoon – owning newspapers in his homeland, as well as in France.
Although he keeps his personal life private, he is reportedly dating Olympic showjumper Anna Kellnerova, who is 22 years his junior.
The ‘Czech Sphinx’, as Kretinsky has been called because of his inscrutable nature, made his money in energy through his company EPH, which he expanded to our shores.
EPH owns four power plants in the UK, in Eggborough in North Yorkshire, Lynemouth in Northumberland, Langage in Devon and South Humber Bank in Lincolnshire.
In 2020, the law graduate increased his shares in Royal Mail – amassing a £250million stake in the historic FTSE250 company.
A month later, his holding company Vesa Equity Investment Sarl became the second largest shareholder of J Sainsbury, when they acquired a ten per cent stake in the supermarket chain.
Kretinsky, who appears to be playing real-life Monopoly, also struck deals to own US trainer store Foot Locker, as well as American shopping centre Macy’s.
Expect West Ham merch to feature highly in both.
The talk of the Czech tabloids is Kretinsky’s romance with Olympic showjumper Anna Kellnerova.
Just 24, she is the daughter of his former EPH business partner Petr Kellner, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year and was the richest man in Czech Republic.
She also attended the International School of Prague, the same as Kretinsky’s son.
A twice national champion, Kellnerova recently competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the Czech Equestrian Team.
It was her father Petr who installed her hardworking values and encouraged her to follow her equestrian dream.
She said: “He told me that I have to work hard in life, I have to be kind, respectful and happy with what I do.
“Because if you are not happy, you will never be able to put as much energy into work as you need.”
The media landscape in Czech Republic and France has a Kretinsky flavour to it.
EPH owns several publications, including the daily tabloid Blesk, which is run out of Prague.
While over in Paris, magazines Elle and Marianne are also under the Kretinsky umbrella.
French afternoon newspaper Le Monde is also part of his media stable.
HE’S ALREADY IN FOOTBALL
For 17 years, Kretinsky has been chairman of world-renowned Czech club Sparta Prague, where the likes of Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved made their name.
However, his time there hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped, with only four league titles since taking over in 2004.
There was also a fallout with former West Ham favourite, Tomas Repka.
After the hot-headed defender was dumped by the club, he sensationally revealed how he conceded a penalty against a title-rival on purpose.
“At that precise moment I was not thinking straight. I hurt the team as a whole. But I was fuelled by human vanity, and I wanted to settle a score with Mr Kretinsky,” Repka said.
“He didn’t behave fairly to me when I was leaving Sparta, so I promised him I’d get him back. Hopefully I succeeded.”
With West Ham flying high in the Premier League, Kretinsky will be hopeful for bigger and better things with the Hammers.
While Kurt Zouma seems far more amiable than ex-hardman Repka.