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German retailer Metro snubs Czech billionaire's bid

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Berlin (AFP)

The management of German retail giant Metro on Sunday snubbed an "unsolicited" takeover offer from a group owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, saying it was too low.

The offer, announced Friday but yet to be officially launched by Kretinsky's Munich-based EP Global Commerce group, values Metro at 5.8 billion euros ($6.6 billion).

But the price -- 16 euros per ordinary share and 13.80 euros per preference share -- "substantially undervalues the company and does not reflect its value creation plan," Metro said in a statement.

"Metro's management is continuing to take decisive actions to transform the wholesale and food specialist."

The Duesseldorf-based group said it will only provide a more comprehensive opinion "once the full offer document is available".

Metro employs around 150,000 staff worldwide with a turnover of 37 billion euros.

Kretinsky has established himself as a financial magnate in Europe in recent years, making numerous acquisitions, particularly in the energy sector.

His energy holding company EPH employs nearly 25,000 people and manages more than 50 power plants and mines in the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovakia.

Last year, the magazine Forbes estimated the 43-year-old's assets to be worth 2.3 billion euros.

He already owns several French media outlets -- including a stake in the Le Monde broadsheet -- as well as the Sparta Prague football club.

In April, EPH said it would buy two power plants in Norther Ireland.

According to German media reports, Kretinsky already holds around 30 percent of the capital of Metro, which also owns German electronics chain stores Media Markt and Saturn.

The takeover bid comes at a difficult time for the Metro group, which reported a net loss of 459 million euros in the second quarter of 2019, primarily as a result of difficulties at its supermarket chain Real, which Metro is looking to sell to real estate group Redos.

Kretinsky has tried to reassure Metro employees by stating he "does not intend to close Metro plants in Germany or cut a large number of jobs".

However, he pointed out that Metro is "in a difficult economic situation" and need to embark on a "transformation process".

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