Royal Mail investor ‘Ebolai Chek’ was recommended by former Labor star Chuka Umunna

A Czech energy tycoon who union leaders claim is plotting a takeover of Royal Mail is being advised by Chuka Umona, the Telegraph says.

The former Labor leadership candidate, who was a leading critic of the privatization of Royal Mail while an MP, has been hired by Vesa Equity, the investment business of billionaire investor Daniel Kirtinsky.

Mr. Omona joins Vesa in his role as Managing Director and Head of JPMorgan, a position he has held since early 2021.

He advises Mr Kirtynski on his UK interests, which include a 23 per cent stake in Royal Mail, a 10 per cent stake in Sainsbury’s and joint ownership of Premier League football club West Ham United.

Mr Kirtynski, whose net worth of $5.3 billion comes from owning Central Europe’s biggest energy group, has been accused by postal unions of trying to take over or break up Royal Mail.

Dave Ward, head of the Communications Workers’ Union, has also claimed that Mr Kirtinsky is behind the pace of change at Royal Mail, which includes plans to scrap six-day-a-week mail.

The allegations come as Royal Mail strikes in its worst industrial dispute since privatisation, with postal workers protesting pay and working practices reforms.

Mr Kirtinsky has been nicknamed the “Czech Squirrel” due to his lack of public statements and his unclear intentions in the Royal Mail.

Mr. Umona’s involvement exposes him to accusations of hypocrisy. The former MP, who left parliament in 2019, previously argued that David Cameron’s privatization of Royal Mail in 2013 would “destroy the UK’s universal postal service”.

He said in 2013: “There is no way private companies can deliver six days a week to every address in the UK.

“Keeping Royal Mail in public ownership gives taxpayers a continuing direct interest in the universal postal service in this country… and ensures that taxpayers get a share in the modernization and increased profitability that Royal Mail delivers. “

Mr. Umona joined JP Morgan in 2021 as head of environmental, social, and corporate governance across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, after a political career during which he repeatedly criticized the banking sector.

In the years after the global financial crisis, he criticized the “reckless pay that encourages risky behavior” and in 2011 republished an Evening Standard editorial that said: “A banker’s boot on the throat of small businesses is a boot on the throat of the whole economy. “

Representatives for JP Morgan and Mr. Umona declined to comment.

Finsbury, the PR firm founded by Brexit critic Roland Rudd, is also advising Mr Kirtinsky. Like Mr Umunna, Finsbury has historic ties to the Labor Party. Mr Rudd campaigned on behalf of Lord Peter Mandelson in the early years and consulted on Sir Tony Blair after his resignation.

Although Finsbury was sold to advertising giant WPP more than two decades ago, Mr Rudd remains chairman of the company.

Mr Kirtinsky, who also owns power plants in the UK, is an enigma to many. Despite owning parts of the Czech media and a stake in France’s Le Monde, he rarely gives interviews.

He took up a stake in Royal Mail three years ago, and after an investigation by the Department of Commerce, it was agreed to continue to acquire shares.

“He is the definition of rationality and unemotional,” said Josef Koterba, who heads accounting giant Deloitte in the Czech Republic, in 2020. He is very analytical and does a lot of financial analysis himself.

The exception to this non-emotional and analytical way of investing is the money he put into football. He is an ardent football fan. “I think it’s the only investment that doesn’t make sense next to his other interests.”

Mr. Kretinski is the owner of Sparta Prague Czech football club. He bought a 21% stake in West Ham United in 2021, with an option to buy the club’s long-term owners David Gold and David Sullivan at a later date.

Finsbury and representatives for Mr. Kretinsky declined to comment.

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