Short sellers are piling into bets against Royal Mail after the shocks of war in Ukraine put the squeeze on its largest investor, Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.
Kretinsky, who made his fortune in the European energy market, has built a 20 per cent stake in the delivery group after scooping up shares in 2020 during the pandemic.
But fund managers are now piling pressure on Royal Mail as Kretinsky’s energy empire, which has ties to Gazprom, has been feeling the pinch in the fallout of Russia’s invasion, the Mail first reported.
Short sellers including Marshall Wace, BlackRock, Millennium Capital and Man Group have built up a combined £115m position against the postal group
Data from IHS Markit shows that short bets are at the highest level since September 2020.
Share in Royal Mail have plunged eight per cent in the last month, over over 31 per cent lower than their January peak.
It comes after Kretinsky’s £2.7bn EP Infrastructure project was marked down by ratings agency Fitch on the grounds that Gazprom may be unable to fulfil its contracts amid a clampdown on Russian oil imports.
Kretinsky also owns a 10 per cent stake in Sainsbury’s and 27 per cent of West Ham United, as well as Sparta Prague football club, and is estimated to be worth £3bn.