Paris, April 19 (CTK) – A Czech billionaire unknown in France who figured in the Panama Papers scandal is buying French magazines including Elle that belong to Lagardere Group, French newspapers said today referring to Daniel Kretinsky.
They mention links some Czech print media have with another Czech billionaire – Prime Minister in resignation Andrej Babis.
Daniel Castvaj, a board member of Kretinsky’s Czech Media Invest (CMI) company, said the deal might be signed within the next few weeks.
Apart from Elle, the transaction involves French magazines Version Femina, Art & Decoration, Tele 7 Jours, France Dimanche, Ici Paris and Public, Castvaj told CTK on Wednesday.
Le Figaro’s online version said there had been a general expectation that the new owner would rather be a French citizen or someone from the neighbouring countries such as Italy, for example.
Nobody knows him, a Lagardere Group employee told the online version of Le Monde about the future owner.
Both papers said Kretinsky’s name had figured in the Panama Papers scandal as he allegedly owned a company on the British Virgin Islands.
However, Kretinsky said in connection with the data leak that he only had a legal ship in the Caribbean.
According to Le Monde, Kretinsky is one of the youngest Czech billionaires, making a fortune in the energy sector.
The dailies are drawing attention to CMI’s extensive activities on the media market in the Czech Republic, pointing out that Czech newspapers had long been in the hands of foreign owners, while nowadays they are being taken over by local oligarchs, Babis being one of them.
Le Monde described Babis as a populist who won the Czech parliamentary election in October last year and owns influential dailies Lidove noviny and Mlada fronta Dnes.