CZECH REPUBLIC: The Energetický a Průmyslový Holding power and industrial group controlled by Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský is reportedly close to signing a deal to acquire rolling stock manufacturer Škoda Transportation.

An agreement worth at least KC10bn could be completed by the end of the year, according to local media, although shareholder disputes at Škoda Transportation could delay this. The main shareholders in Škoda Transportation are Czech businessmen Tomáš Krsek, Michal Korecký, Marek Čmejla and Jiří Diviš, with minor stakes being held by six senior managers.

EPH was formed in 2009 and Křetínský has since turned it into a major player in the central European power market. It owns more than 50 companies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Hungary and the UK, and employs 25 000 people.

In 2016 Křetínský sold a 30% stake in its infrastructure unit to Macquarie, and used the proceeds to buy out minority shareholders, giving him a 94% control of EPH.

Through its transport and freight forwarding subsidiary EP Cargo, EPH is also a majority owner of transport and logistics group Spedica which controls open access freight operator RM Lines and has a 65% stake in rolling stock leasing company LokoTrain.

China Railway Rolling Stock Corp had also looked at buying Škoda Transportation, but despite several attempts a deal did not materialise.

In 2016 Škoda Transportation reported consolidated sales of KC15·7bn, down 14% year-on-year, although net profit rose almost threefold to KC1·57bn. It has a staff of 5 300.