[CZ] Investor Daniel Kretinsky closing in on Skoda Transportation

Reuters reports: Investor Daniel Kretinsky, the majority owner of central European energy group EPH, is near a deal to buy Czech bus and rail car manufacturer Skoda Transportation, a source with knowledge of the talks said on Friday.

The deal is not yet finalised, the source said, confirming Czech media reports. The source said that Kretinsky, not EPH, would acquire the asset using a separate structure. Weekly magazine Euro reported the deal on Friday and said it could be worth more than 10 billion crowns ($454 million).

Euro, citing an unnamed source, said the deal could be completed by year-end, although shareholder disputes at Skoda Transportation could delay things. The company’s main shareholders are four Czech businessmen.

Skoda Transportation was not immediately available to comment.

China’s CRRC had also aimed to buy Skoda Transportation, which builds rail and tram cars and trolley buses and has delivered to more than 50 countries.

Kretinsky has helped build EPH into a major player in European power markets and reached a deal last year to sell a 30 percent stake in an infrastructure unit to Macquarie. He used proceeds of that sale to buy out minority shareholders, giving him 94 percent control of EPH.

EPH has snapped up coal, gas and nuclear power assets in central Europe, Germany, Italy and Britain, betting they will remain strong energy sources and pay off once electricity prices rise from lows.

The investor also holds a majority stake in industrial group EP Industries, which was spun off from EPH in 2011.