August 19, 2014 / 10:25 AM / in 3 years

Italy's UniCredit takes 6 pct stake in O2 Czech Republic

PRAGUE, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The Czech arm of Italian bank UniCredit has taken a nearly 6 percent stake in O2 Czech Republic by buying shares from investors who were unable to sell their stock in the telecom group’s recent buyout offer.

The purchase makes UniCredit the second-largest shareholder of the Czech mobile and fixed-line operator behind majority owner billionaire Petr Kellner’s PPF Group. The Italian bank owns 5.86 percent of O2 Czech Republic, according to a filing with the Czech central bank.

“UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia purchased 17.48 million shares of O2 Czech Republic from investors, whose shares were not accepted under the compulsory redemption,” bank spokesman Petr Plocek said.

Plocek declined to comment on why UniCredit had bought the shares or on what it planned to do with the stake.

PPF acquired 65.9 percent in O2 Czech Republic from Spain’s Telefonica in January and launched a buyout offer for minority shareholders at a price of 295.15 crowns ($14) per share in May, raising its stake to 73.1 percent last month.

However PPF rejected around half the requests it received from shareholders to buy their shares because of “formal shortcomings,” which it did not elaborate on at the time.

Shares in O2 Czech Republic traded flat on Tuesday at 297.80 crowns.

1 US dollar = 20.9580 Czech crown Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Erica Billingham

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