May 17, 2018 / 7:15 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-J&T Private Investments says takes over shareholder rights in CEFC Europe

(Adds CEFC protest, quote)

PRAGUE, May 17 (Reuters) - Creditor J&T Private Investments (JTPI) said on Thursday it had taken over shareholder rights and installed crisis management at CEFC Europe, the Czech-based part of troubled Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy.

The move is a sign of fresh woes for CEFC Europe which bought Czech assets from real estate to breweries, an engineering firm, an airline and a football club, under an investment drive promoted by Czech President Milos Zeman.

CEFC Europe protested against the move, saying it had the money ready to cover the debt.

The parent company CEFC China Energy came under stress when it was reported that its founder Chairman Ye Jianming was being investigated for suspected economic crimes earlier this year.

Since then, several CEFC deals including a plan to take a stake in Russian oil major Rosneft have fallen through and a sale of some assets has been announced.

JTPI said its move came after CEFC Europe had not paid back its debt on time.

“Despite public assurances from top representatives of CEFC, receivables were not paid at the stated time,” JTPI said in a statement.

“A new crisis management is in charge of securing stability of all parts of CEFC Europe and creating conditions and time to resolve the situation.”

JTPI said it had held and was ready to continue talks with China’s state-owned conglomerate CITIC Group which was considering taking a stake in CEFC’s Czech assets, according to CEFC executives and the Czech presidential office.

CEFC Europe Vice-Chairman Jaroslav Tvrdik said the company was ready to pay.

“CITIC Group has opened an account at CSOB Praha and today (Thursday) it put 475 million euros there. J&T has been informed, prior to its decision, about the readiness to cover all liabilities of CEFC China by 2.00 pm tomorrow - the deadline set by J&T,” Tvrdik said on his Twitter account.

Separately, Czech financial group J&T Finance Group (JTFG), which says it is independent from JTPI but also a CEFC Europe creditor, said it was aware of the steps and believed it could shield CEFC Europe from the problems of its parent firm.

It said its unspecified receivables were well covered.

JTPI said the crisis management at CEFC Europe included Dusan Palcr, a finacier who is also a board member at JTFG.

China-based parts of CEFC hold a 9.9 percent stake in JTFG but a plan to raise that to 50 percent was first rejected by the Czech National Bank and later abandoned. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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