Billionaire buys big stake in Macy’s as it scrambles to maintain cash

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A Czech billionaire has bought a 5% stake in Macy’s, looking to reconfigure the company and turn a profit amid a retail reckoning.

Daniel Kretinsky, one of Europe’s top deal-makers and worth an estimated $3.4B, became a top shareholder Monday through the entity Vesa Equity Investment, The New York Post reports. He called the move a “strategic investment” and stated plans to engage in conversations with company management in a regulatory filing.

This comes as major retailers, including Macy’s, have temporarily closed their stores nationwide while large swaths of the country remain shut down. Many have struggled to pay rent and have furloughed staff. Some have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — including Macy’s competitor Neiman Marcus — or have made plans to do so in the near future.

Macy’s is currently seeking loans to bolster its cash flow, which has significantly decreased as a result of the shutdown, according to a May 7 regulatory filing. It is also looking to sublease a portion of its Long Island City headquarters in order to retain more of its cash, Business Insider reported Monday.

“The Company’s liquidity has been negatively impacted by the store closures and the Company is pursuing additional sources of financing to meet its financial obligations,”

Macy’s said in the filing.  Its shares have tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic, down 70% since the beginning of the year.

Kretinsky previously said he saw the crisis as an opportunity to pick up investments, the Post reported. He hasn’t yet elaborated further on his plans.  The mogul’s reputation has earned him the nickname the “Czech Sphinx.” He owns the professional soccer team Sparta Prague; France’s top newspaper, Le Monde; and heads up the Czech energy business Energetický a průmyslový holding, or EPH.

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