* Haniel raised 2 bln euros from Celesio sale
* Looking outside retail sector at unlisted firms
* No plan to cut Metro stake
* Haniel says Metro shares undervalued
* Metro Russia IPO plan not cancelled
(Adds comments from CEO interview)
By Matthias Inverardi
DUISBURG, Germany, April 7 German investment
group Haniel has a budget of 1.3 billion euros ($1.8
billion) for acquisitions and is looking primarily outside the
retail sector and at unlisted companies, Chief Executive Stephan
Gemkow said on Monday.
The announcement signals a change in strategy for the group,
which has been shedding assets to offset a massive 2012
writedown on its holding in German retailer Metro and
reduce debt which stood at 1.6 billion euros at the end of 2013.
Family-owned Haniel received about 2 billion euros following
the sale of its stake in German drugs distributor Celesio
to U.S. drugs group McKesson this year.
Gemkow, speaking to journalists after his group published
its annual report, declined to give details on which companies
might be in focus for acquisitions or when takeovers might be
possible, saying there was no time pressure.
He also said Haniel, Metro's biggest shareholder, did not
plan to reduce its holding in Europe's fourth-biggest retailer
after cutting its stake to about 30 percent from 34.2 percent in
late 2012, saying it sees potential for appreciation.
In January, Haniel denied a report it was pushing for a
breakup of Metro to raise funds, including the sale or listing
of Kaufhof department stores, Real hypermarkets and Media-Saturn
consumer electronics chain.
The report said Haniel had threatened not to extend the
contract of Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch - which runs until
Sept. 13, 2015 - unless he agreed to a breakup of the group.
Gemkow said it remained to be seen if Koch could improve the
company's fortunes but that he had already achieved significant
success to stabilise and consolidate the group.
"We expect growth and margin improvement, which should be
reflected in a rising share price," Gemkow told Reuters, adding
that 40 euros would be a fair valuation for the company.
Shares in Metro were down 1 percent at 29.52 euros at 1129
GMT, compared with a 0.7 percent weaker European retail sector
The stock has fallen 16 percent this year, hit by concerns
over Metro's exposure to Russia. The Ukraine crisis has forced
Metro to delay the stock market listing of a quarter of its
Russian cash-and-carry wholesale operation.
Gemkow said the listing plan had not been ditched although
he did not know when Metro might consider reviving it.
($1 = 0.7303 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Emma Thomasson;
Editing by Erica Billingham and Pravin Char)