Daniel Kretinsky: Eustream, the dark side of the Czech billionaire

Daniel Kretinsky Eustream the dark side of the Czech billionaire

So far, everything has gone so well for Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, champion of fossil fuels. Arriving on tiptoe five years ago in France by buying coal power plants doomed to disappear for a pittance, here he is today the darling of Parisian business circles, courted by all the bankers in the place. , approached the best lawyers and communicators. New prince of French capitalism, transformed into a white knight, in a hurry – begged? – by the public authorities and the entire establishment to go and study – save? – files – too many? – tricky. Casino yesterday, Atos today. All over Europe, he collects, stacks, restructures. In mass distribution, logistics, media.

Everything would be fine if a few events did not darken the sky over part of his empire. Not in France, but in the heart of Europe, in Slovakia. At the source of his first billions, a tip. The Eustream gas pipeline, the historic “route” for Russian gas in Europe – it crosses Ukraine, then Slovakia to reach Austria and Italy -, acquired in 2013 alongside the Slovak state from the EON-GDF tandem in a hurry to get rid of it, fearing that the construction of the other Nordstream 2 gas pipeline would doom this one.

© / art press – S. KRUPAR – LAIF/REA

For a decade, Eustream was the cash machine for the ambitions of the boss of EPH (Energiticky a prumyslovy holding), but the flow has dried up since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The volumes of gas transported have melted, and threaten to decline further, placing Eustream in an unfortunate situation. Certainly Gazprom signed a contract with Eustream until 2028, committing to using these famous pipes until that date. But Ukraine could add its two cents. Without gas passing through Ukraine, more gas arriving in Slovakia. Geography is stubborn. The Fitch rating agency made no mistake in labeling the company with the “negative watch” label. Time is running out for Daniel Kretinsky.