Babis Buys Controlling Stake In Leading Online Underwear Retailer Astratex

Agrofert, Andrej Babiš, Capi hnizdo, Czech Corruption, Czech Economy, EU Subsidy Fraud, rule of law, Stork Nest

Prague, April 3 (CTK) – Hartenberg, a private equity fund that belongs to trustee funds of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, buys a 51 percent stake in Astratex, Central Europe’s largest online underwear retailer, Hartenberg told CTK in a press release.


The price of the deal was not disclosed.


Business daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) estimated the price at hundreds of millions of crowns.


The sale is yet to be approved by the Czech anti-monopoly office.


Astratex launched its operation in 2000, and has been exclusively focused on online sales since 2005.


It is an underwear market leader in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Romania, and is also operating on markets in Hungary, Bulgaria and Austria.


Last year’s sales rose by more than 35 percent to nearly Kc600m. The company expects to reach a Kc1bn turnover within three years.


Before Astratex, Hartenberg had considered some investments in e-commerce, said the fund’s investment manager Jozef Kovac.


Astratex will continue European expansion, he added.


Cyrrus chief analyst Lukas Kovanda praised Hartenberg for the acquisition, which further diversifies its portfolio, saying it is crystal clear that people will always buy underwear and bed linen – in bad times as well as good times. The fact that Astratex is an e-commerce platform boosts competitiveness of the entire business and improves its outlooks, Kovanda said.


Hartenberg, which was created by Babis and Jozef Janov, former investment manager at Penta Investments, has made investments in health care, biotechnologies and food industry, recently buying a stake in aircraft repair company Avia Prime.


Hartenberg is owned by SynBiol company whose shares as well as shares of Agrofert company were transferred to the trustee funds by Babis because of a law on conflict of interest in February last year.