December 15, 2017 / 5:03 PM / 3 months ago

Media-Saturn owners reappoint mediator to solve long-running dispute

DUESSELDORF, Dec 15 (Reuters) - German businessman Clemens Vedder has been asked to mediate between the main shareholders in Media-Saturn, Europe’s biggest consumer electronics group, to try to end a long-running dispute between them.

Media-Saturn is majority owned by German consumer electronics retailer Ceconomy, while billionaire founder Erich Kellerhals has a stake of just over 21 percent.

Both investors have been at odds for years over the management of the business, most notably its move into the fast-growing online market. Vedder had been hired last year to mediate in the dispute, but to no avail.

“With our help we are confident that this time the parties will come to a face-saving agreement that is acceptable to all,” a spokesman for Vedder said on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Ceconomy confirmed that the parties were in the process of mediation.

News about the appointment comes after a report by German magazine Der Spiegel which said that representatives of Kellerhals’ holding company Convergenta on Thursday refused to approve Media-Saturn’s annual accounts.

The magazine, not naming its sources, said that as a result Media-Saturn’s profits could not be passed on to its owners, raising doubts over whether parent Ceconomy could offer a dividend to shareholders.

A source familiar with the matter said that Ceconomy’s ability to make payouts was not threatened by Convergenta’s refusal to approve Media-Saturn’s accounts.

Ceconomy, which this year split from retail group Metro , is scheduled to report results for the 2016/17 financial year next week.

“We will comment on a possible dividend proposal with the presentation of our full-year results on Dec. 19,” the Ceconomy spokeswoman said. “We have, however, repeatedly made clear that Ceconomy’s ability to pay dividends is unrestricted.”

A spokesman for Convergenta declined to comment. (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Kathrin Jones/Keith Weir)

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