The Austrian company founder René Benko is withdrawing from the management of the ailing Signa real estate group. Recently the negative reports have increased. Now a renovator is taking the helm.
The Austrian real estate entrepreneur René Benko is withdrawing from the management of the ailing Signa Group. As the company announced on Wednesday, the billionaire is stepping down as chairman of Signa Holding’s advisory board. The German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz is taking over the restructuring of the real estate and trading holding company. Benko transferred his voting rights to Geiwitz.
René Benko: Resignation is the best solution of all
“In the current situation, this is the best solution for the company, its partners, investors and employees,” said Benko, according to the statement. It is now important to restore trust. Signa’s real estate portfolio remains unique. Everyone involved is called upon to support Signa now.
Geiwitz said the company now needs peace and order. It is important to find long-term solutions. “It is therefore both responsible and necessary to initiate a comprehensive consolidation of the company now,” said the well-known reorganizer. The quality of the real estate portfolio and that of the planned projects, especially in Germany, are very good.
Signa is building the 245 meter high Elbtower in Hamburg. The group also includes the department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, which has already gone through two insolvency proceedings. The most recent trial was conducted under Geiwitz’s leadership.
Prestige project: Construction of the Hamburg Elbtower interrupted
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the real estate industry has struggled with increased construction and energy costs as well as higher interest rates. Because of the increased interest rates, Signa Prime Selection suffered a devaluation of 1.17 billion euros last year. Real estate in Germany was particularly affected by this, as can be seen from the luxury real estate holding company’s consolidated financial statements.
Signa has hired additional external consultants to provide support in order to carry out a high-speed review of all business areas and to develop measures and a holistic concept for the group, it said.
According to the Austrian partner Hans Peter Haselsteiner, Benko’s co-owners of the holding had asked the billionaire to give up power over the company network after problems accumulated in various divisions and in various projects. The Signa sporting goods division filed for bankruptcy in October. The construction of the Elbtower was interrupted. The 46-year-old Benko built his group of companies with the help of low interest rates and financially strong investors.