FRANKFURT/VIENNA, July 13 (Reuters) - Austrian investor Rene Benko is not interested in taking control of German department store chain Karstadt, Focus magazine reported on Sunday, citing company sources.
German daily Bild had reported on Friday that billionaire Nicolas Berggruen could sell out to Benko and Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz. The paper said talks had begun with Vienna-based Signa, Benko’s property vehicle, which could buy more than 70 percent of Karstadt for 1 euro ($1.36).
Berggruen rescued Karstadt from insolvency in 2010 but has been criticised by unions and media for not investing enough in the chain.
Last week the chief executive of the loss-making Karstadt, which competes with Metro-owned Kaufhof, stepped down after only five months in the job, hinting at a lack of support from the company’s billionaire owner and raising questions over the chain’s future.
Focus magazine reported on Sunday that Benko, who already owns 75.1 percent of Karstadt’s separate premium and sports divisions, was put off by bad result of the department store chain.
A spokesman for Benko declined to comment. (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde in Frankfurt and Georgina Prodhan in Vienna; Editing by David Goodman)