Czech-based EPH expands on the Dutch energy market
Czech-based energy conglomerate EPH, owned by the Czech and Slovak billionaire duo of Daniel Kretinsky and Patrik Tkac, has acquired 100% of the gas-fired power plant Sloe in Zeeland, Holland, with an installed capacity of 870MW.
The acquisition from Dutch PZEM and French EDF, which each owned 50% of Sloe, follows the French government's full nationalisation of EDF and disposal of some of its assets, including the Dutch ones.
“We are pleased that through this opportunity we can offer the wholesale activities of PZEM a new future and we see the company as an important springboard for further expansion in the Dutch market”, CEO of EP Power Europe Jan Springl said in a press release.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of PZEM Gerard van Harten said PZEM “has gone through a complex process to arrive at this interpretation of the company strategy”, and that the supervisory board is “very much in favour of this solution”.
Based on 2021 revenue results, EPH is the largest Czech energy company by revenue and operates a number of energy companies across Europe.
It is also one of the largest importers of Russian gas into Europe and earlier this year Moody’s and Fitch Ratings lowered their ratings for EPH and EP Infrastructure, EPH’s pipeline infrastructure unit, warning against their dependence on Gazprom payments and their vulnerability to an energy war with Russia.
EPH together with other two key energy conglomerates in Czechia, majority-state-owned CEZ and Sev.En, could also face a windfall tax which the Czech government plans to impose on energy companies and banks making extraordinary profits on the energy crisis.
According to a recent study carried out by Ember think tank, EPH, together with CEZ and Sev.En, are among the least climate friendly companies in the EU and don't reflect the spirit of the Glasgow climate summit. EPH has set 2050 as its goal for achieving carbon neutrality.
EPH has been successful with its strategy of buying old coal power plants at fire sale prices across Europe, predicting the green energy transformation will be long and slow.
Kretinsky and his long-term business partner Patrik Tkac of Slovak J&T – where Kretinsky worked before founding EPH in 2009 with the help of J&T and Czech PPF – have also invested together in number of companies, including footwear retailer Foot Locker, UK grocer Sainsbury’s, Dutch PostNL and German wholesaler Metro AG.
In August the UK launched a national security review into the new ownership of Royal Mail, where Vesa Equity Investment of Kretinsky and Tkac could increase their shares above 25%.
In Czechia Kretinsky’s waste management business is also under increased public scrutiny after AVE CZ, where he is largest shareholder, lost a court case with Caslav municipality over unpaid fees from a local AVE CZ-operated waste disposal site and police launched a criminal investigation into what could be systematic evasion of payments worth CZK 3.76bn (€153mn).
Kretinsky and Tkac are also very active on the media market. In Czechia they are majority shareholders behind the Czech News Centre, which is one of the two largest media houses in the country, together with Mafra of billionaire ex-premier and populist opposition leader Andrej Babis.
In France Kretinsky holds a stake in Le Monde and earlier this month French media reported that Kretinsky also lent €14mn to the daily Liberation to finance its activities and donated a gift of €1mn to Liberation owner Presse Independente.