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September 4, 2015

China’s CEFC in talks with Travel Service

Sixth-largest Chinese company has been on a Czech buying spree

Prague, Sept 4 (ČTK) — Chinese group CEFC China Energy Company Limited is in talks about purchase of private airline Travel Service, Jaroslav Tvrdík, president of the Mixed Czech-Chinese Chamber and former CEO of national air carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA), confirmed to server Lidovky.cz today.

The size of the stake that CEFC wants to buy in Travel Service, which is ČSA’s co-owner, is not yet known. Travel Service co-owner Jiří Šimáně has not denied the information.

The Chinese group has already bought in the Czech Republic football club Slavia, Martinický palác at Hradčanské náměstí and the building of former bank Živnobanka in Prague, and raised its stake in Czech-Slovak financial group J&T Finance.

Travel Service refused to comment on the information about the potential sale today. “I can issue a stance only on something that has been written and signed. This is not the case,” Šimáně said in a message for the server.

Company spokeswoman Vladimíra Dufková has also reacted to the Czech News Agency’s question by the words “no comment”.

Travel Service holds 34 percent in ČSA and 44 percent is in the hands of Korean Air. Czech state-owned aviation holding Český Aeroholding has less than 20 percent and the remaining 2.26 percent is owned by insurer Česká pojišťovna.

Tvrdík was at the helm at ČSA between September 2003 and January 2006. During his management, ČSA’s air fleet grew significantly but Tvrdík has been criticized for managerial mistakes, in particular by the unions, for causing excessive debts to CSA.

Travel Service is a member of Unimex Group owned by Jiří Šimáně and Jaromír Šmejkal. Entrepreneur Roman Vlk is another important shareholder.

Travel Service has been active on the market since 1997. It is a leader in charter flights in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and holds a significant market share in Poland.

Travel Service raised profit to 158 million Kč in 2013 on sales worth 14 billion Kč. It transported almost 5.5 million passengers last year.

CEFC is the biggest private company in Shanghai and the sixth biggest private company in China. It is active in particular in the areas of finances, energy and industry.

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