* Haniel can sell whole 22.5 pct stake
* Stake worth 977 mln eur at Friday’s close
* Czech-Slovak investor group could buy more (Recasts, adds details on deal)
FRANKFURT/PRAGUE, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Family-owned German investment group Haniel has agreed to sell a 7.3 percent stake in retailer Metro AG to a Czech-Slovak investor group for an undisclosed sum, with the option of selling the rest of its holding at a later date.
Investment vehicle EP Global Commerce (EPGC), which will acquire the stake, is co-owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky and Slovak investor Patrik Tkac, co-founder of the J&T group of companies, in a 53-47 percent split.
Under the terms of the deal, EPGC can acquire Haniel’s remaining 15.2 percent stake under a call option. Haniel is Metro’s largest shareholder with 22.5 percent, which is worth 977 million euros ($1.12 billion) at Friday’s closing price.
“Haniel has long since endeavoured to diversify, balance and grow its portfolio of companies,” Haniel Chief Executive Stefan Gemkow said. “Against this background and after careful consideration we have decided that it will be beneficial to Metro AG to attract new investors.”
Haniel said it would use the proceeds of the sale of the stake, worth 317 million euros based on Friday’s close, for “further strategic portfolio development”.
Kretinsky, who also serves as CEO of energy group EPH, said that EPGC intended to exercise its call option if it is convinced that it can play a positive role in the development of Metro, adding further shares could be bought in the future.
After growing EPH into one of Europe’s biggest power groups, Kretinsky has branched out into other investments in recent years, buying some of Lagardere’s east European radio assets and holding talks with the French media group over buying some of its French magazine titles, including “Elle”.
Metro meanwhile said earlier this month it hoped its shrinking business in Russia had turned a corner despite a quarterly drop in profit and sales.
“We are aware of the dynamic environment in which Metro AG operates,” Kretinsky said in a statement. “We are confident that ... the company will be able to find the right strategic answer to those dynamics.”
$1 = 0.8744 euros Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Jason Hovet; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey