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March 13, 2018 8:42 pm | FILED UNDER: business

Zeman Adviser Ye Jianming’s CEFC Group Under Scrutiny

By ČTK Milos Zeman Ye Jianming

Prague, March 13 (CTK) – Chinese investment group CEFC’s Lapasan company, the owner of Pivovary Lobkowicz Group (PLG) brewery, borrowed Kc1bn from Slovak Postova banka belonging to J&T Finance Group in 2017 and used it to refinance a debt it owed to CEFC Group (Europe) Company, an appendix to Lapasan’s 2016 annual report said.

 

Last year, Lapasan borrowed money from CEFC to pay off a debt it owed to J&T Banka and J&T Private Investments, and then it took out the Kc1bn loan from Postova banka.

 

In January 2018, Lapasan paid off half of the loan and took out another one from CEFC, according to the appendix.

 

J&T Finance Group does not register any claims, be it currently due or overdue, against CEFC Group (Europe) Company, J&T spokeswoman Monika Vesela told CTK today. More details cannot be disclosed because of the law, she said. Neovlivni.cz server wrote today that J&T will require Kc10bn from CEFC Group (Europe) Company due to problems of parent company CEFC.

 

J&T had a minority share in Lapasan in 2017, however, CEFC has bought the stake.

 

CEFC owns 10 percent in J&T Finance Group. In 2016, the companies agreed that CEFC would have a half for which it was supposed to pay EUR980m (Kc25bn).

 

However, at the end of last year, the Czech National Bank (CNB) refused to approve the transaction, saying that CEFC had not documented source of the money sufficiently. The decision is not final and CEFC has appealed against it.

 

J&T said on Monday that CEFC’s long prepared buying into the company is unacceptable if CEFC does not satisfactorily refute information about its crucial economic problems and clearly explain investigation of its chairman for suspected economic crimes.

 

Two weeks ago, there was information saying that CEFC (China Energy Company Limited) chairman Ye Jianming, an adviser to Czech President Milos Zeman, was investigated for suspected economic crimes.

 

CEFC China Energy has recently been willing to take out short-term loans with extraordinarily high interest rates, up to 36 percent a year, which reflects the company’s problems with liquidity, Reuters agency said.

 

Pivovary Lobkowicz Group, one of the biggest brewery groups on the Czech market, raised beer sales by 3.6 percent to 726,000 hectolitres last year, expecting to grow this year. Its loss in 2016 increased to Kc106m from 2015’s Kc83m, while its turnover totalled Kc1.25bn.

 

Lapasan generated a loss of roughly Kc140m in 2016, the annual report said.

 

CEFC has chosen the Czech Republic as the seat of its European activities, acquiring shares in a few companies in the country.

 

CEFC Group (Europe) Company’s capital rose by Kc13.5bn to Kc14.65bn on March 1.

 

The company has been managing its investment portfolio in finances, aviation and tourism, industry and production, real estate and sports without changes, it said on Friday.

 

In the Czech Republic, CEFC Group (Europe) Company has bought stakes in Travel Service airlines, Invia.cz online travel agency, and J&T Finance Group. It controls Pivovary Lobkowicz Group brewery and Zdas metallurgy and machinery company, and is the majority owner of Slavia Praha football club and the Eden stadium which the club uses for its home matches.

 

CEFC Europe manages assets worth over EUR1.5bn in the Czech Republic.

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