Five things to know about Daniel Kretinsky who covets Editis

During a car trip on the Champs Elysée, Daniel Kretinsky talks about buying press from one of his relatives. The latter is about to stop to go to the nearby kiosk. “No, from the media”, replies the businessman. The anecdote told by one of his relatives, dating from 2018, illustrates the ambitions of the Czech billionaire in the French press.

In five years, the businessman, almost unknown in France, has become essential, particularly in the media with “Elle”, “Marianne”, a participation in the “World” etc. At 47, the man who made his fortune in energy and is present in many European companies (including Fnac Darty etc.), is well on the way to acquiring Editis the number 2 of the French edition.

Five things to know about this Francophile, among the top 500 world fortunes according to Forbes (with a fortune estimated at around $5 billion in 2022).

1. He arrived in the French media by taking over “Marianne” and “Elle”

Thunderbolt in 2018, a Czech billionaire puts hand on the prestigious “Elle”, but also a series of well-known and large-print magazines such as “Télé 7 jours”, “Version Fémina” , etc. then belonging to Lagardère. At about the same time, he seized “Marianne”, then in difficulty.

The businessman, who already owned media in the Czech Republic, including “Blesk”, the country’s most widely read tabloid daily. Quickly he invites itself to the capital of the “World”. He even tried to take control of the evening daily by buying at a high price (110 million euros) the share of Matthieu Pige, co-shareholder of the newspaper with Xavier Niel. But he backed off at the last minute to sell only 49% of his share. Revealed by a leak to employees, also shareholders, the information was very badly ped. Daniel Kretinsky’s alleged links with Moscow worried the French establishment, even if he always disputed it loud and clear.

What is a coal industrialist doing in the French press? At the time, he spoke of “a civic commitment”. In an interview with “Echos” at the end of 2018, he explains: “I consider that the press is essential for the preservation of the traditional values ​​of liberal democracy. If we invest in this sector, it is because I am very attached to the values ​​of our companies and what I observe today in their evolution frightens me”.

And according to his collaborators, it is always this commitment that guides him. Thus, he has just bailed out “Liberation” with a daily loan of 14 million euros, to guarantee its financing until its return to equilibrium, planned for 2026. “Do you think that Marianne or Liberation are his favorite reading material? He invests because he wants pluralism, he is a fervent defender of democracy, ”says one of his relatives. “And, he doesn’t intervene. He has always left us a royal peace”, adds Frédérick Cegrain, director of “Marianne”.

2. He wants to build a large “pluralistic” media group

After shopping in the media, he seeks to constitute a “large pluralist media group”, to use the expression of Denis Olivennes, head of the supervisory board of CMI France, which includes several titles (“Elle” etc. .) to his teams. “It’s a pursuit of diversification in the media, the content,” he continues.

“Succeeding in doing business in a French intellectual sector is for this pionate about France and the intellectual thing an important personal success”, explains Etienne Bertier, his adviser for many years, who does not comment further on Editis . “There are parallels with Hachette in the great years, which also had press, publishing, etc. “, notes Jean-Clément Texier, banker specialist in the press.

Will he stop there in the media? According to those close to him, nothing is set in stone and the businessman who comes to France approximately every fortnight navigates according to the opportunities. “Everything is open,” said Hubert Coudurier, director of information for “Télégramme” and member of the CMI supervisory board.

Provided that he also sees a financial opportunity. Because his relatives ure him: even if the media is not a very profitable sector, he does not want to lose money. CMI France posts a turnover of around 220 million euros. He had communicated on an Ebidta of around fifteen million euros in 2021.

3. He tried to buy M6 and is a shareholder of TF1

Francophone, Francophile, Daniel Kretinsky, who did part of his law studies in Dijon, was not only interested in writing. The former lawyer tried to buy M6 at least twice in 2021 Then last fall shortly after the failed merger with TF1. Alas, considering uncertainties and tight timing Bertelsmann ultimately decided not to sell M6.

But the Czech billionaire has not given up on television for all that. After taking a stake in the German Prosieben, he invited himself to the capital of TF1: in the fall of 2021, he had crossed the 5% threshold and would today have around 9% of the audiovisual group. Daniel Kretinsky justifies this acquisition by his “confidence in the French economy and its prospects”, he then explained to the “Echos”. However, he did not reveal more information about his intentions. “He is well aware that the audiovisual sector requires high investments”, recalls a relative.

More anecdotally, he also has a participation in Louie Media . At the end of last year, CMI France took a 47% stake in the podcast studio.

4. Historically present in coal, it has diversified into distribution and logistics

My main job is energy,” he reminded Les Echos in 2018. It only took Daniel Kretinsky ten years to build EPH. With at the base, a bet: to take back at discounted prices the polluting and depreciated ets. Daniel Kretinsky is then convinced: Europe will still need to run its fossil power plants to supplement renewables. For many, his masterstroke is the acquisition of 49% of the Eustream gas pipeline, at the beginning of the past decade, which crosses Slovakia and constitutes one of the main gateways for Russian gas into the European Union. An activity that has allowed him to earn regular income.

His fortune made with energy, Daniel Kretinsky sought to diversify into other sectors: media and content, of course, but also retail and logistics.

Businessman is so crossed the threshold of 5% of the capital of Fnac-Darty last year and has strengthened since: it has around 20% of the group. The action of the group has moreover recently soared on the stock market on rumors of takeover by Daniel Kretinsky from Ceconomy, the first shareholder of the French distributor. According to BFM Business, he would be ready to buy the group and delist it.

At the same time, Daniel Kretinsky is notably present in Casino, but also in the German distributor Metro. He is also a shareholder of “Royal Mail” in Great Britain.

The billionaire is also interested in Atos or more precisely, in the historic outsourcing activity of Atos, baptized “Tech Foundations” and counting around 50,000 people. “It’s the king of buying against the cycle,” smiles a relative.

5. A painting enthusiast

When his collaborators or acquaintances speak of Daniel Kretinsky, it is above all to praise his “friendly”, pleasant, cultured side. Son of a mother who is a judge at the Constitutional Court and a father who is a computer science professor, in Brno, the city of Milan Kundera, the second largest Czech city, he has “an old European side”, smiles someone who know well.

“He has a great sense of his word and he hates conflict. For him, it’s a waste of time,” adds Etienne Bertier. Not easy, however, to get to know each other and gain respect in France at the start. “Initially, there were a lot of questions about his links with Russia. He must have surrounded himself well, reured, ”recalls Hubert Coudurier.

This old painting enthusiast has all the attributes of success: a private island in the Maldives according to “l’Equipe”, a castle in Essonne, football teams (the “Sparta Prague” and he has invested in the English club “West Ham”), and even catamarans, which earned him a mention in the “Panama papers”. “The owner who sold me the boat had a company administered by a Panamanian company. I only kept it for two months before changing that, ”he justified himself at the time.

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