Media-Saturn founder demands say in finding new CEO

Wed May 7, 2014 6:55am EDT

* Media-Saturn founder has candidate for interim CEO

* CEO quit on Tuesday over lack of support

* Power struggle between owners of company

* Chain battling online competition

DUESSELDORF, Germany, May 7 (Reuters) - The founder of Europe's top electronics chain Media-Saturn, who is locked in a dispute with the firm's majority owner Metro, demanded a role on Wednesday in choosing a new chief executive to replace Horst Norberg who quit on Tuesday.

Eric Kellerhals, Media-Saturn's billionaire founder who still owns a stake of close to 22 percent that gives him a say in executive appointments, has been fighting for years with Metro over its management of the chain.

A spokesman said Kellerhals has called on Metro to urgently discuss who should lead the company after Norberg announced on Tuesday he was stepping down after 27 years at the firm, saying he did not feel he had the support of all the chain's owners.

Kellerhals has proposed a member of Media-Saturn's management as an interim replacement for Norberg, his spokesman said, but declined to name who it was.

Media-Saturn, which accounts for about a third of Metro's sales, was slow to move into e-commerce because of the long-running dispute between Metro and Kellerhals, but is now accelerating a push towards online retailing.

The power struggle between the owners escalated recently after Kellerhals called on his own website for applications to replace Norberg when his contract expires at the end of 2015, accusing Metro of moving too slowly.

Metro, who called Kellerhals "completely unprofessional" for advertising for a new CEO online, announced on Tuesday it was putting its management board member Pieter Haas in charge of Media-Saturn on an acting basis.

Media-Saturn, the world's second biggest consumer electronics chain after Best Buy with more than 950 stores in 17 countries, saw its sales fell 0.7 percent to 6.6 billion euros ($9.20 billion)in the last quarter of 2013.

Retail analysts expect Metro to report another drop for the chain that competes with Dixons Retail and Darty Plc when it announces results for the January to March period on Thursday. ($1 = 0.7177 Euros) (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Louise Heavens)

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