Czech billionaire buys stake in iconic U.S. department store Macy’s

Macy’s department store in New York, photo: Paulo JC Nogueira, CC BY-SA 3.0

Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský has bought a stake in Macy’s, one of the oldest U.S. department stores, taking advantage of a share price-drop spurred by uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Macy’s department store in New York,  photo: Paulo JC Nogueira,  CC BY-SA 3.0
Křetínský bought a 5 percent stake in Macy’s through Vesa Equity Investment, an investment vehicle he controls along with junior partner Patrik Tkáč, according to a regulatory filing.

Vesa Equity said in the filing that, depending on market conditions and the continuing evaluation of Macy's business, the fund may dispose of or acquire additional shares in the iconic retail chain.

Founded in 1858 in New York, Macy's operates around 900 stores, including around 500 stores under the Macy's brand and other outlets under the Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury brands.

Following the stake purchase, Vesa Equity is now the fourth-largest shareholder in Macy’s, which has annual sales of close to $25 billion. The Czech investors said in the regulatory filing they intend to engage in constructive discussions with other interested parties over its future direction.

Křetínský has an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, and has shown a growing appetite for strategic investments in troubled foreign assets.

Macy’s shares have slumped almost 70 percent this year, according to the newswire Bloomberg, and its stock fell as much as 3.9 percent in New York on Monday. Earlier in May, he bought a 5.4 percent stake in UK postal firm Royal Mail.

Last year, he invested in France’s Casino Guichard-Perrachon, and in 2018, through his holding company Czech Media Investment, bought several magazines from French media conglomerate Lagardère, including Elle and Télé 7 Jours. He also owns a stake in the newspaper Le Monde.

Křetínský’s principal asset is Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), the biggest energy group in Central Europe. He also owns football club Sparta Prague alongside stakes in French newspaper Le Monde and German retail giant Metro AG.