Six business figures to watch in 2022

When Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský invested in Sainsbury’s and Royal Mail two years ago, some were baffled by his interest in two British stocks typically scarce of foreign interest. 

But Křetínský, known as the “Czech Sphinx” for his inscrutable approach, has since watched the value of his stakes climb by hundreds of millions of pounds as the pandemic sent their shares soaring.  

It has earned him a reputation for spotting bargains, with observers wondering what he will do next. 

Postal leaders, supermarket titans and the City are in the dark as to Křetínský’s plans, but – having sat on his investments for close to two years – that hasn’t stopped people wondering what he could do in the coming year.

The 46-year-old has a wide-ranging, international portfolio. He joined West Ham’s board after buying a 27pc stake worth between £180m and £200m in November, co-owns Czech football club Sparta Prague and runs Central Europe’s biggest energy group EPH. 

He is also a backer of French newspaper Le Monde, US retailers Macy’s and Foot Locker, French grocery group Casino Guichard-Perrachon and Spanish supermarket chain Eroski. 

In the UK, analysts have wondered aloud whether Křetínský’s next moves could involve pushing for a breakup of Royal Mail or a go-private bid for Sainsbury’s. 

Whatever his intentions are, they remain a riddle to outsiders for now.

Rachel Reeves, Labour shadow chancellor

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