| VIENNA, April 3
VIENNA, April 3 Struggling Austrian
home-improvements store chain BauMax will close its seven
outlets in Turkey and may exit other markets in southeast
Europe, its owner said.
BauMax, which employs about 10,000 staff in nine countries,
made a loss of 126 million euros ($173 million) in 2012 after
overextending itself with a push into eastern Europe, and most
recently into Turkey in 2010. It has not published 2013 results.
"We will close Turkey," owner Karlheinz Essl told ORF
television after his offer to sell his contemporary art
collection worth an estimated 250 million euros to the Austrian
government - which he argued could help save thousands of jobs
in the company - was rejected on Wednesday.
"We are in the process of considering whether there will be
other countries. That will be decided by the end of April," Essl
BauMax's creditor banks - including Raiffeisen,
Erste Group and Bank Austria - are due to
meet on April 28 to decide whether to approve a restructuring
plan for BauMax, which like other DIY chains operating in Europe
has suffered from weak demand due to sagging housing markets and
German rival Praktiker said in February it would
close its stores in Turkey and withdraw from the country after
failing to sell its nine stores there.
BauMax has 158 stores, almost half of them in Austria and
the rest in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia,
Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Turkey.
($1 = 0.7263 Euros)
(Editing by David Holmes)