“Elbe Tower” Hamburg: Construction work is suspended – because Benkos Signa is not paying

“Elbe Tower” Hamburg: Construction work is suspended – because Benkos Signa is not paying

Construction work on the skyscraper has been at a standstill for days “Elbe Tower” in Hamburg. Apparently René Benko’s Signa company cannot pay bills.

It is a building that will permanently change Hamburg’s skyline. The future tallest building in the Hanseatic city has been under construction on the banks of the Elbe for around two years. It should be 245 meters “Elbe Tower” rise into the sky. It would also be the third tallest skycraper in Germany, designed by the office of star architect David Chipperfield.

Offices, shops and a hotel are scheduled to open in the high-rise in 2025, and a viewing platform is also planned. But the schedule is in danger of being seriously disrupted. Because the construction work is now at a standstill – no crane is moving anymore. The “Elbe Tower” seems built on sand.

The news of the halt to construction on the prestigious project in the Hafencity district hit Hamburg City Hall like a bombshell. Those responsible found out about this before the weekend “Hamburger Abendblatt”. The local newspaper reported that the construction company Lupp from Nidda in Hesse was relying on payments from the “Elbe Tower”-Owner is waiting. It is not known how much money is involved.

The "Elbe Tower" should become a landmark that can be seen from far away

The owner is no stranger. The project is being carried out by a subsidiary of the dazzling Austrian company Signa Holding “Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof”-owner René Benko – and his companies are apparently in financial difficulties. For a few days now, the billion-dollar empire has been making a name for itself with bad news.

Is Signa in trouble?

For example, Signa Sports United, which includes, among other things, the online shops “Bicycle.de” and “Tennis Point” belong, filed for bankruptcy. The company “Sports check” sold. The Vienna news magazine “News” recently reported that after many successful years, Signa Holding has a loss of around 500 million euros in its books for 2022 – deep red figures.

Billionaire Benko has long been loud “Picture”-Newspaper hired Germany’s best-known insolvency expert Arndt Geiwitz. “Is the Karstadt billionaire running out of money?”asks the tabloid. And the trade press also sees Benko’s general goods empire in danger. “For the Austrian real estate king René Benko and the Signa Group he founded, it’s all about now”she writes “Business Week”. “The signals of crisis are increasing – how tight will things be for René Benko?”asks the business magazine “Capital”that like that star belongs to RTL Germany.

René Benko rules an empire worth billions

The group itself rejects all assumptions about a tense financial situation. Capital increases in which existing investors brought in fresh money should serve as evidence – most recently in the amount of 400 million euros at the umbrella company Signa Holding.

And yet: The fact that not everything goes according to plan can also be observed at a second Signa construction site in Hamburg. Even with the new building “Gänsemarkt Passage” Construction work in the city center was stopped in mid-October. The space is now lying idle – supposedly because there aren’t enough tenants yet and the banks have therefore turned off the money for Signa. When the construction workers will arrive at the Gänsemarkt again is just as unclear as it is for them “Elbe Tower”-Construction site three kilometers further south.

How’s the hamburger? “Elbe Tower” further?

People in Hamburg City Hall are alarmed. “The construction stop on the Elbtower is an embarrassment for Signa. We are now expecting an immediate explanation from Signa as to how things should proceed. From the city’s perspective, construction work must be resumed immediately” said SPD parliamentary group leader Dirk Kienscherf “Evening paper”. It is also interesting that Hafencity GmbH, which is responsible for the development of the district, was not informed by Signa about the construction stop.

For critics of the project, the construction halt is likely to be grist for the mill. From the outset, it was warned that the skyscraper would be built out of demand, and there were also fears that it would spoil the cityscape of the Elbe metropolis, which is traditionally skeptical of high-rise buildings. But despite all the criticism, the Senate of the Hanseatic city pushed through the project from 2017. First mayor back then: today’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), which led to the derisive name “Olaf Scholz Tower” for the new landmark of Hamburg.

So far it is “Elbe Tower” around 100 meters tall, a skeleton made of reinforced concrete can be seen on the Elbe bridges – now there is a risk that it will stay that way for the time being. The Signa Group did not comment on the construction stop when asked by several media outlets. However, the managing director of the Lupp construction company is now confident that he will get his money soon. “We are in close contact with the investors, the Signa Group and CommerzReal. As things stand today, we assume that construction site activity can be resumed in a timely manner”he said.

Sources: , , , , , , DPA news agency

Source: Stern

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