PRAGUE : Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Wednesday handed the resignation of his minority government to President Milos Zeman, a political ally who immediately asked the populist billionaire to form another government.

Babis's ANO movement won 76 out of 200 seats in the Czech parliament in October's general election, but the Slovak-born chemicals, food and media tycoon failed to woo potential coalition partners who shunned the mogul charged with EU subsidy fraud.

"I accept your resignation and ask you to make sure the cabinet will go on until a new cabinet is named," ex-communist Zeman told Babis at Prague Castle, his seat.

"I ask you to lead talks on a new cabinet and I wish you success," added pro-Russian, pro-Chinese and anti-Muslim Zeman, who is running for his second term in a tight run-off ending on January 27.

Last Friday, parliament stripped Babis of immunity as a lawmaker, allowing the police to investigate his role in the fraud allegations that date back to 2007.

Police allege the tycoon pulled his Stork Nest farm out of his sprawling Agrofert holding to make it eligible for a small-company subsidy from the EU, before eventually putting it back.

Babis has labelled the Stork Nest case "a politically motivated, purpose-built pseudo-cause", insisting the police have "no direct or indirect evidence that I committed a crime."

Spurned by partners, Babis formed a minority cabinet of ANO members and unaffiliated experts that lost a parliamentary confidence vote on January 16.

Under the constitution, 73-year-old Zeman can give Babis two attempts to form a cabinet. If needed, a third and final try to form a government falls to the parliament speaker, who is currently a member of Babis's ANO movement.

Billionaire Babis has already started talks to secure parliamentary backing for his second cabinet, or even a coalition.

Zeman is seeking re-election after clinching pole position in round one of the presidential vote on January 12-13, setting up a final round against pro-European Jiri Drahos, a former academic, who has said a prime minister facing police charges was a problem for him.

But Zeman, whose term of office expires on March 8, has vowed he will not give Drahos a chance to derail Babis.

"I would like to give the prime minister plenty of time to garner support for his cabinet," Zeman told reporters on Wednesday, adding that would mean Babis has the backing of 101 lawmakers.

But "I might not get re-elected, and in that case, I will make good on my pledge to appoint Mr Babis by the end of February, and since this deadline is too tight for him to get the necessary backing, I won't insist on that condition," he added.