VESA, controlled by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, is now the fourth-largest investor in the UK retailer after taking a £125m bet on the shares.
‘Food retail distribution has been one of the key areas of interest for Vesa,’ said investment director Branislav Miskovic. ‘We view Sainsbury’s as an attractive investment opportunity for the long-run even against the backdrop of the highly competitive UK grocery market.
‘Sainsbury’s is a strong traditional brand with good locations concentrated in the South East of England, including London, and an attractive convenience as well as online food delivery proposition for its customers,’ Miskovic added in a statement.
Between VESA and another vehicle, EP Global Commerce, Krentinsky already owns just under a 7% stake in French supermarket group Casino, close to a 20% holding in German wholesaler Metro and a 6% stake in US sports apparel retailer Foot Locker.
Sainsbury’s, one of the most heavily shorted stocks in the UK market this year, is worth just over £4 billion at today’s price compared with a £21 billion valuation for rival Tesco (TSCO) and £20.2 billion for online grocery delivery firm Ocado (OCDO).
Kretinksy is also the largest shareholder in Royal Mail Group (RMG), another heavily-shorted stock, having increased his holding from 4% in April to 13.1% in July.
‘In the case of Royal Mail, we particularly appreciate the company’s tradition, history and importance of the public service it provides’, said the so-called ‘Czech Sphinx’.