Greek-backed fund eyes Germany's Kaufhof
An Austrian real estate group part-owned by a Greek billionaire said on Wednesday it was in talks about possibly buying iconic German department store chain Kaufhof from retail giant Metro.
"Yes, we are in negotiations," Dietmar Hofreiter, a spokesman for Signa Holding, told AFP, without giving further details.
Signa Holding is majority-owned and run by Austrian property magnate Rene Benko.
Greek shipping billionaire George Economou is also a silent partner and minority shareholder, Hofreiter said. Industry sources said Economou owned a stake of between 40 and 50 percent in the firm.
Metro has been trying for several years to offload Kaufhof, which owns 139 stores, mostly in Germany, and generated sales last year of 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion).
German business daily Handelsblatt on Wednesday quoted a source as saying that Signa's approach was "the first serious attempt to take over Kaufhof." The paper said that a deal could be reached before the end of the year.
Handelsblatt put the minimum offer price for the 130-year-old chain, which employs 20,000 people, at 2.4 billion euros.
© 2011 AFP