Entrepreneur: Signa founder Benko ready to withdraw from holding company?

According to a co-owner of the struggling real estate and trading holding company, the Austrian Signa founder René Benko is ready to take a drastic step.

Entrepreneur: Signa founder Benko ready to withdraw from holding company?

According to a co-owner of the struggling real estate and trading holding company, the Austrian Signa founder René Benko is ready to take a drastic step. The billionaire has signaled that he will withdraw as chairman from the advisory board of Signa Holding GmbH, said the Austrian industrialist and holding partner Hans Peter Haselsteiner on the radio station Ö1.

In addition, the 46-year-old Benko is fundamentally prepared to transfer his voting rights to a redeveloper with extensive powers, said Haselsteiner.

The media had previously reported that shareholders of the 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 would like the co-shareholders to contribute to the restructuring of the Signa Group. According to Haselsteiner, negotiations on this could still take some time.

In Austria, Benko was long considered a model entrepreneur and self-made billionaire who began renovating attics while still a teenager while still at school. Today, his investments include prestigious properties such as the Chrysler Building in New York or the Elbtower, which is currently under construction. However, the real estate industry as a whole is now struggling due to increased interest rates and higher material costs.

Construction interruption at the Elbtower in Hamburg

In Hamburg, political pressure is growing on the project developer Signa Real Estate, which belongs to the Signa Holding, due to a construction interruption on the billion-dollar Elbtower building. According to a spokesman, the asset manager Commerz Real, which is involved in the project, is in discussions with Signa and the construction company carrying out the work "in order to quickly find a solution" and to move forward with construction again soon. The Signa Group itself has not made any statements to the media for weeks.

Haselsteiner confirmed that the shareholders of Signa Holding GmbH had asked Benko to appoint the German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz as general representative. Geiwitz became known, among other things, through the insolvency proceedings of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store chain, which belongs to Signa. According to a spokesman for the business and tax advisor's office SGP Schneider Geiwitz

Reinhard Houben, the economic policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, warned of a “desolation of German inner cities” in view of the developments at Signa. “Now it must be ensured for the future that Signa’s properties, which are often the flagship properties in German city centers, continue to be used sensibly,” he said.

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. At the beginning of June, the Signa Group sold the operational business of the Austrian furniture group Kika/Leiner. The large furniture retailer filed for bankruptcy shortly afterwards. “A second Kika/Leiner should be prevented,” Haselsteiner explained in the newspaper “Der Standard” the investors’ demands for withdrawal.

NEXT NEWS