Business Popular Prague department store bought by former banker
Real estate magnate and former banker Václav Skala has bought Kotva, an icon among Prague department stores which first opened some 36 years ago when then-Czechoslovakia was behind the Iron Curtain. The price of the deal? Around two billion crowns (the equivalent 80 million euros).
On Monday, the financial daily E15 was the first to break the story that one of Prague’s most famous department stores, Kotva, had been bought by real estate magnate Václav Skala's PSN, beating out both domestic and international competition in a tender run by the Irish consolidation firm NAMA on behalf of the owners, Markland. None commented on specifics of the deal.
Markland had obtained the landmark department store in 2005 and invested hundreds of millions of crowns to be able to compete, for example, with Palladium, a newer flashy shopping centre just across the street at Prague’s Naměstí republiky square. But Markland found itself in financial difficulty following the global economic crisis and the company assets were confiscated by banks after the firm stopped paying off its debts, E15 reported. The Irish state consolidation firm NAMA took control of the sale as part of the package then to save Irish banks.
Kotva was built in the years 1970 to 1975 and designed by the Czech architects (and spouses) Věra Machoninová and Vladimir Machonin. Most unusually, its floor plan consists of a number of interconnected hexagons, rising five stories. Architectural historian Rostislav Švácha proposed the building be declared a cultural monument in 2007. To this day it is considered a gem by many for its open-design, broad floor space and easy access smack in the centre of the city.