CZECH REPUBLIC: Investment company PPF Group has acquired rolling stock manufacturer Škoda Transportation under an agreement finalised overnight on November 24-25.

Although the purchase price has not been formally announced, it is understood to be in excess of KC10bn. In 2016 Škoda Transportation reported consolidated sales of KC15·7bn, down by 14% on the prior year, although net profit rose almost threefold to KC1·6bn.

The group has 5 300 staff in the Czech Republic, and several international subsidiaries across Europe and in North America. Headquartered in Plzeň, Škoda Transportation produces electric locomotives, multiple-units and trams, as well as a range of components for rolling stock. In the urban transport sector it also manufactures trolleybuses and electric buses.

PPF Group has acquired Škoda Transportation from a group of Czech businessmen, who held a controlling share of the business through a Cypriot investment trust, Central Europe Industries Ltd. Several senior managers also held smaller stakes; all the shares have now been transferred to PPF Group. Completion of the deal is subject to approval by the relevant regulatory authorities.

PPF Group is run by Czech entrepreneur Petr Kellner. It was founded in 1991 and has assets totalling €35bn in multiple market segments including financial services, telecommunications, biotechnology and agriculture.

The sale brings to an end more than a year of speculation about the future ownership of Škoda Transportation. Reports last year had suggested that Chinese rolling stock group CRRC had been close to reaching an agreement to buy the company; CRRC had even notified the Hong Kong Stock Exchange of its interest in the acquisition. But despite intense speculation that continued into the summer of 2017, the deal could not be finalised.

Other interested parties are reported to have included Siemens and Czech transport and logistics group EPH.