Minority shareholders in fixed and mobile operator O2 Czech Republic have given the green light to offer a CZK24.8 billion (USD1.1 billion) loan to the telco’s majority shareholder PPF Group – the investment firm owned by the country’s wealthiest man, Petr Kellner.
In October this year PPF Group approached shareholders seeking a loan to pay off part of the debt it took on when it bought a majority stake in O2 Czech republic this year. However, the following month the plan looked shaky amid grumblings from minority stakeholders that the proposal was ‘too risky’. At the time,, the PPF loan – which was estimated to be equivalent to 30% of the Czech telco’s market value – was questioned by Richard Doyle, a money manager at Setanta Asset Management, which has a 0.72% stake in the company, as opening it up to unnecessary financial exposure.
Despite the angry protestations of several small stakeholders at the four-hour meeting, including vitriolic outbursts from those shouting ‘lies’ and ‘shame on you’, the telco’s owners backed the plan to loan the money to PPF, with 92.6% of attendees voting in favour of the move.
Billionaire Kellner’s PPF Group owns 83.15% of the telco, having upped its stake in October this year. In January 2014 PPF Group agreed a deal to purchase a 65.90% stake in the Czech operator from Telefonica of Spain and subsequently acquired an additional 7.16% via a buyout of minority shareholders in July.