FRANKFURT Jan 13 The German state of Bavaria
may offer insolvent bookseller Weltbild financial backing to try
to avert thousands of job losses, a newspaper cited Bavarian
state premier Horst Seehofer as saying.
There are a number of options ranging "from debt guarantees
to bridge financing", the Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted Seehofer
as saying on Monday.
Weltbild, owned by the Roman Catholic Church and which has
6,300 employees, filed for insolvency on Friday after failing to
keep up with competition from Internet-savvy rivals such as
Amazon.com and to obtain new financing.
The owners of Weltbild - 12 Catholic dioceses, the
Association of German Dioceses and the church's soldiers'
welfare organisation - have long fought over company strategy.
Two years ago, they decided to prepare a sale of the
for-profit business after accusations that Weltbild was making
profits from selling erotic books, but no deal materialised.
Labour representatives have criticised the Church for
allowing Weltbild to become insolvent, putting jobs at risk.
The Church says it has no choice and has offered financing,
which Sueddeutsche Zeitung said was 65 million euros ($88.87
million), less than half the 135 million Weltbild has demanded.
"As owners we could not justify investing three-digit
million euro sums, taken from church tax revenue, for the
foreseeable future," Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich, told
Weltbild, which relies on sales from catalogues and is
part-owner of Germany's second biggest brick-and-mortar
bookstore chain Hugendubel, said its business will continue
while the court-appointed insolvency administrator works out a
plan to restructure the business.
The company in 2012 generated sales of almost 1.6 billion
euros with mail-order sales of books and household items.