Top Royal Mail investor would back bid from ‘Czech Sphinx’ billionaire

Top Royal Mail investor would back bid from ‘Czech Sphinx’ billionaire Daniel Kretinsky if the price was right

A leading Royal Mail shareholder said it would back a takeover bid from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky – but only at the right price.

The top-ten investor conceded that supporting a buyout of parent group International Distribution Services (IDS) would be a ‘difficult’ decision and was likely to cause ‘a lot of political pushback’.

But the shareholder, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity around the subject, said an offer worth ‘a lot more than’ 400p a share from Kretinsky – dubbed the Czech Sphinx due to his inscrutable demeanour – would have to be considered. 

Takeover target? Billionaire investor Daniel Kretinsky (pictured) owns 23% of Royal Mail’s parent company International Distribution Services

The stock is trading at 230.9p, giving the company a value of £2.21billion.

Kretinsky already owns 23 per cent of IDS through his company Vesa Equity Investment and speculation is rife that he wants to buy the company outright. 

Such a move is likely to trigger a political backlash and spark opposition from the unions amid fears over jobs and working conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents around 115,000 postal workers, is already locked in a bitter dispute with management that has led to a wave of strikes and cost Royal Mail £200million.

Kretinsky made most of his money snapping up Czech power plants and owns Central Europe’s largest energy group. 

The 47-year-old also owns football club Sparta Prague and has a stake in West Ham United where he is a director.

The anonymous shareholder, meanwhile, admitted to becoming frustrated at the mounting issues facing Royal Mail. 

The ‘ideal outcome’ would be for bosses to strike a deal with the unions and continue its modernisation plans, the investor said.

But if this proved impossible, they would consider supporting measures to split Royal Mail away from its much more successful international business GLS. IDS management have warned twice that splitting the business is an option that is being considered.

The investor said mounting losses are ‘not sustainable’ and when asked if they would support a takeover by Kretinsky, the shareholder said: ‘It depends on the price. 

If Vesa offered 400p per share I’d probably say no. If they offered a lot more than that then possibly yes.’