* Haniel to cut stakes to bring net debt below 2 bln euros
* Haniel to sell 4.24 stake in Metro within 18 months
* Celesio stake to fall to 50.01 percent
(Adds Metro, Celesio comments, context)
FRANKFURT, Nov 27 Family-owned conglomerate
Haniel said it would sell down stakes in retailer
Metro and drugs distributor Celesio to cut
its debt to below 2 billion euros ($2.59 billion).
"This is a decisive step for Haniel on its way to
significantly reducing our net debt position at holding level,"
Chief Executive Stephan Gemkow said in a statement. Haniel has
about 2.4 billion euros of debt.
Haniel's board approved the sale of about 13.7 million
shares in Metro, equivalent to a 4.24 percent stake in the
company, to reduce its holding to 30.01 percent within the next
18 months, Haniel said.
Metro - owned 50.01 percent by the Haniel and
Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families - has struggled to slim down to
adjust to an economic slowdown in Europe and dropped out of
Germany's blue-chip DAX index in September.
Standard & Poor's cut Metro's earnings last month on fears
that profits would continue to weaken.
Gemkow said Metro and Celesio would remain long-term
investments in the Haniel portfolio.
Haniel said it would place about 7.9 million shares in
Celesio in the near term, by way of an accelerated bookbuilding
to institutional investors, to cut its stake to 50.01 percent.
Celesio shares will be offered at between 12.20 euros and
12.50 euros a share, a source familiar with the matter said on
Haniel said it had agreed not to engage in any further stake
sales or transactions which could lead to a further reduction in
its Celesio holding in the next six months. The Celesio
placement is managed by Deutsche Bank AG.
Celesio said it welcomed the fact that Haniel would remain
as an anchor investor. Metro declined to comment.
An additional 150 million euros will be raised from the sale
of other non-strategic assets, Haniel said.
($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Reporting by Edward Taylor, Alexander Huebner, Matthias
Inverardi; and Frank Siebelt; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Helen