Signa: Grossnigg will be leaving the board in three weeks

Signa: Grossnigg will be leaving the board in three weeks
Signa restructuring board Erhard Grossnigg (APA/Fohringer)

The board member of Signa Prime and Signa Development, Erhard Grossnigg (77), who has been in office since last December, wants to withdraw from the management of the insolvent companies after the upcoming general meetings of the two real estate companies on April 10th. The renovation expert justifies his imminent withdrawal by pointing to his age.

The Signa Prime supervisory board will be re-elected and there will also be a new board, Grossnigg told the Ö1 “Morgenjournal” on Tuesday. The former SP boss and Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has been Signa Prime’s supervisory board chairman since 2010. At the end of February, Gusenbauer announced that it would convene a general meeting after the creditors’ meeting. At the end of this, he will resign from the supervisory board as chief controller. According to media reports, ex-Vice Chancellor and Wüstenrot boss Susanne Riess-Hahn, ex-RBI boss Karl Sevelda and ex-Bank Austria general director Karl Sonntag also want to withdraw from the Signa Prime supervisory board.

Manuel Pirolt has been active on the Signa Prime board since 2013 and Tobias Sauerbier from 2019, although according to the restructuring report he left the board at the end of January. In mid-December 2023, the then Signa Prime and Development boss Timo Herzberg was removed from his position citing gross breaches of duty. Since then, nothing has been reported about this matter.

It is not certain whether the creditors of the luxury real estate company will get at least 30 percent of their claims back, as provided for in the resolution restructuring plan adopted on Monday. “You can’t predict that, but that would be the plan. The expert also confirmed that,” said Grossnigg. Signa Prime’s portfolio includes, for example, the Berlin luxury department store KaDeWe, Selfridges in London and the Elbtower in Hamburg, which is currently at 100 of 245 meters construction height, and many other properties, such as the Goldenes Quartier and the Hotel Park Hyatt in Vienna as well as the Tyrol department store in Innsbruck. The real estate market is not in a very good condition, so real estate sales are currently “not very easy,” said the Signa board with regard to the trust solution. “The owners have given up their assets and now we’re making sure we’re doing well.”

According to Grossnigg, Signa founder Rene Benko was not involved in the development of the restructuring plan and did not promise any financial subsidies. “I saw him once for two minutes, that was it.” The focus has recently also come into focus on cash flows from Signa companies before they declare bankruptcy. “This will also be checked,” announced the Signa Prime board.

“Over the last three months, I have been able to get to know Signa as an international, highly professional real estate company with very competent employees,” Grossnigg noted in a statement. “There is nothing comparable in Austria.”

The Signa series of bankruptcies is by far the largest insolvency in Austrian economic history. To date, 475 creditors have registered claims totaling a record 12.8 billion euros against the insolvent luxury real estate company Signa Prime; around 5.9 billion euros have currently been recognized by the insolvency administrator. 2.3 billion euros in claims have been registered against Signa Development, of which 1.5 billion euros have been recognized so far.

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