Berggruen teams up with Blackstone for Kaufhof bid

DUESSELDORF, Germany Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:59am EST

DUESSELDORF, Germany Nov 22 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen has teamed up with buyout firm Blackstone in his bid for Kaufhof, the department store chain being sold by world number four retailer Metro.

Blackstone is supporting Berggruen as a real estate investor, a spokesman for Berggruen said on Tuesday.

Sources close to Metro said the group was examining the offer from Berggruen, who owns rival German department store group Karstadt, and Blackstone and was in talks with all the bidders.

Berggruen had previously criticised Metro for favouring an offer from Austrian property group Signa and not offering all interested bidders the same access to Kaufhof's books.

Signa head Rene Benko has said he hopes to agree a deal in a matter of weeks.

Along with Signa and Berggruen, a consortium led by former KarstadtQuelle head Wolfgang Urban is interested in Kaufhof, which Metro has valued at between 2 billion and 3 billion euros ($2.69-$4.04 billion).

Kaufhof, which has 140 stores in Germany and Belgium, was put up for sale by departing Metro Chief Executive Eckhard Cordes.

Finance chief Olaf Koch will take over the reins on Jan. 1 2012 and he is widely expected by analysts to follow Cordes' strategy, which also envisages a sale of hypermarket chain Real and, in the longer-term, possibly floating Media-Saturn, its chain of consumer electronic stores. ($1 = 0.7425 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi. Writing by Victoria Bryan. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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