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Billionaire Sheds Macy’s After Making Millions on Stock Surge

(Bloomberg) — Daniel Kretinsky’s bet on Macy’s Inc. turned out to be short but profitable.

The Czech billionaire’s Vesa Equity Investment said Tuesday it owned 0.7% of the U.S. department-store chain, down from the 5% stake unveiled less than a month ago. The investment, billed as a strategic move at the time, coincided with a 65% surge in the stock. Kretinsky made roughly $36 million if he bought Macy’s shares the day before disclosing his 5% stake and sold them on Tuesday.

Kretinsky’s exit comes as Macy’s starts reopening stores following weeks of lockdown. The company just reported a 45% quarterly sales slump and a net loss of $630 million. Despite the recent rebound, the stock remains down 48% for the year. It was removed from the benchmark S&P 500 Index in March, and Fitch cut the company’s credit rating to junk in April.

The Czech investor is known for making contrarian bets, and he’s had a few in the retail sector. Just a week after he disclosed his Macy’s stake, Vesa announced it owned 6% of sneaker seller Foot Locker Inc., another U.S. retailer hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Kretinsky also amassed shares of French grocer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA last year as it reeled from a long fight with short sellers. That move came after a $6.5 billion takeover offer for German wholesaler Metro AG was rebuffed.

In the May 11 filing disclosing the 5% investment in Macy’s, Vesa said it may sell or raise its stake depending on market conditions. It also planned to discuss the company’s business, operations, financial conditions and strategic plans with the management, board or other interested parties.

Kretinsky’s public relations manager didn’t reply to a text message seeking comment on the investment change.

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