According to the co-owner, Signa founder Benko is ready to withdraw

According to a co-owner of the holding company, the Austrian Signa founder René Benko has signaled his withdrawal from the real estate and trading group. The Austrian industrialist Hans Peter Haselsteiner confirmed to the public radio Ö1 on Friday that he and other shareholders of Signa Holding GmbH had this week asked the billionaire Benko to appoint the German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz as general representative.

“In addition, as a far-reaching step, Geiwitz should also be given all voting rights that René Benko and/or his foundations hold in the Signa holding,” said Haselsteiner. Signa’s spokesman has not yet responded to a request from the German Press Agency.

The media had previously reported that shareholders of the struggling real estate holding company Signa were turning against Benko. Haselsteiner said of the co-owners’ demands that “this request was fundamentally answered positively by René Benko, and his willingness is evident.” However, Benko still has questions about a possible contribution from the co-shareholders to the restructuring of the Signa Group. According to Haselsteiner, negotiations on this could still take some time. Benko is chairman of the advisory board of Signa Holding.

Could Arndt Geiwitz soon take over the helm?

Geiwitz became known, among other things, through the insolvency proceedings of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store chain, which belongs to Signa. Geiwitz is now also advising Signa and, according to a spokesman for the business and tax consultancy office SGP Schneider Geiwitz & Partner, received a consulting contract “a few days ago”. Geiwitz’s current task is to “familiarise himself and gain an overview of the group of companies”.

The Signa Group includes real estate and trading interests. Signa Sports United (SSU) recently filed for bankruptcy. Registered as a Dutch company, SSU is the parent company of several online sporting goods retailers. Signa Holding had previously withdrawn a financing commitment of 150 million euros for SSU.

In Hamburg, after a construction interruption on the billion-dollar Elbtower building, political pressure is growing on the project developer Signa Real Estate, which belongs to the Signa Holding. Signa Real Estate has not yet responded to inquiries about the reasons for the interruption of construction and further progress. The real estate industry as a whole is struggling due to increased interest rates and higher material costs.

At the beginning of June, the Signa Group sold the operational business of the Austrian furniture retailer Kika/Leiner. The furniture retailer filed for bankruptcy shortly afterwards. (dpa)