April 14, 2014 / 7:37 AM / 4 years ago

Czech investor Penta to focus on healthcare, airport -paper

PRAGUE, April 14 (Reuters) - Czech-Slovak investment group Penta is looking to sell some of its smaller holdings to focus on bigger projects such as expanding its healthcare division and building a competitor to Prague airport, a partner in the firm was quoted as saying on Monday.

Penta is close to selling its Pet Centrum retail chain to a Czech investor and will also sell the fashion division of its Polish retailer Empik Media & Fashion (EM&F) as part of a restructuring, Marek Dospiva said in an interview with newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes.

The group, set up two decades ago and active throughout central and eastern Europe, wants to focus on bigger projects, he said. In healthcare, it would look at buying hospitals in Poland and Slovakia, as well as the Czech Republic.

“We are halfway done with building the hospital holding,” Dospiva said, adding they wanted to grow revenue to around 250 million euros by 2016, up from 140-150 million currently.

Penta, whose holdings together generated 4.4 billion euros of revenue in 2012, is also moving ahead with work on a new airport to attract low-cost carriers to compete with Vaclav Havel Airport Prague in the capital.

Dospiva said teaming with a foreign partner could not be ruled out.

“We have registered interest in cooperation from several companies in Europe - mainly big infrastructure investors. We are just starting talks about a potential partnership,” he said.

The moves are part of a strategy change over the past two years in which the company holds assets for longer and is shrinking its portfolio. Last year, Penta spent only 88 million euros on acquisitions compared to 370 million the year before, Dospiva said.

Reporting by Jason Hovet. Editing by Jane Merriman

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