* Paper quoted exec as saying Metro may sell Media-Saturn
* Metro reject newspaper's interpretation of exec comments
* Comments come amid struggle for control of Media-Saturn
* Metro shares rise 3.6 percent, outperform market
(Recasts, adds Metro spokesman and Kellerhals' holding company
By Matthias Inverardi
FRANKFURT, July 3 German retailer Metro AG
denied it was considering a sale of its stake in
Media-Saturn Holding, Europe's biggest consumer electronics
chain, rejecting a newspaper's interpretation of comments by a
management board member.
German daily Die Welt said on Thursday that Metro was
considering a sale of its stake in Media-Saturn, the world's
second-biggest consumer electronics chain after Best Buy Co Inc
, to the unit's founder Erich Kellerhals, citing Metro
board member Pieter Haas.
However a spokesman for Metro said afterwards: "We merely
said that we would by law have to look at any offer."
Metro shares were up 3.6 percent at 33.09 euros at 0903 GMT,
making them the top gainers on Germany's mid-cap index,
which was up 0.4 pct.
Metro has for years been fighting Kellerhals, who owns 22
percent of Media-Saturn, for control of the business. It has
offered to buy him out, while Kellerhals, who has a personal
fortune estimated at $4 billion, has himself offered to buy the
company back from Metro.
In the past, Metro has said it saw its cash & carry and
consumer electronics businesses as having the biggest potential
for growth in the long term.
Media-Saturn is currently battling online competition. It
saw its sales fall 4 percent in its fiscal second quarter to
4.88 billion euros ($6.66 billion), prompting Metro to cut its
full-year earnings forecast for the unit in May.
Analysts have said Metro, which also runs hypermarkets and
department stores, could consider floating or selling
Media-Saturn but have warned that any divestment would be
difficult as long as Kellerhals held a stake in the firm.
The dispute between Metro and Kellerhals has escalated in
recent months, prompting the resignation of Media-Saturn CEO
Die Welt on Thursday quoted Haas - who is also acting CEO of
Media-Saturn - as saying: "If Mr Kellerhals were to present a
good offer, Metro's duty to exercise due diligence would require
us to examine it."
But he said Kellerhals had not responded to requests for
concrete names of possible co-investors and valuation estimates.
A spokesman for Kellerhals' holding company declined to
Metro lifted its holding in Media-Saturn to 78 percent last
year when it bought an extra 3 percent stake from co-founder
Leopold Stiefel for about 230 million euros, valuing the whole
company, which accounts for about a third of Metro's sales, at
more than 7 billion euros.
($1 = 0.7331 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Marilyn Gerlach and Maria Sheahan;
Editing by Pravin Char)