Central Group Takes Control of KaDeWe Berlin Property

LONDON — Thailand’s Central Group, the current majority owner of Selfridges, on Friday agreed to acquire 100 percent of the KaDeWe property in Berlin from Signa Prime Selection AG, a division of Rene Benko’s troubled Signa property empire including Selfridges, KaDeWe and Karsdadt, that filed for insolvency last December following the collapse of the holding company a month earlier.

KaDeWe Group, which operates some of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious department stores, filed for administration in January due to rising rents and the collapse of its co-owner Signa Holding.

The majority owner of the KaDeWe Group is Thailand’s Central Group, which holds a 50.1 percent stake. The remaining 49.9 percent is held by Signa, which owns and leases the buildings.

Located on Tauentzienstraße, Berlin’s popular shopping street, the KaDeWe property comes with 650,000-square-foot of retail space, and is currently occupied by the KaDeWe department store.

Central Group said it remains in talks and, now with the Berlin property in possession, is optimistic about reaching an agreement with the KaDeWe Group operating company management and creditors to acquire the assets and begin “an orderly exit” from the insolvency.

Vittorio Radice, board member of Central Group Europe, said the acquisition of the building represents “the first important milestone for us in the attempt to restore and restructure the KaDeWe Group operating company towards a sustainable, financially viable business.”

Tos Chirathivat, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Central Group, added: “The additional capital investment demonstrates our family’s commitment to the KaDeWe Group, our loyal customers, employees and business partners in Europe. We will continue our efforts to find the best possible solution with all parties involved to allow our department stores to return to normal operation — better and stronger than before, and as soon as possible.”

The other retail portfolios under Signa Prime Selection AG have found ways to come out of insolvency as well.

On Wednesday, NRDC Equity Partners and BB Kapital SA confirmed that they are acquiring Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, the department store business in Germany, also known as Galeria. The company is the result of the January 2020 merger of the Kaufhof and Karstadt department store chains in Germany.

The agreement stipulates that the German American investor consortium receive Galeria “as a whole” and is expected to take over more than 70 stores across Germany, reflecting some downsizing in the business. Galeria currently operates 90 stores in Germany, generating 2.2 billion euros in sales annually.

Last November Central Group took control of Selfridges, which it purchased in late 2021 alongside its joint venture partner Signa Holdings, following the resignation of Benko and the Austrian property giant’s restructuring by German specialists Arndt Geiwitz.

Central Group at the time said it exercised its right to convert a loan, provided by one of its subsidiaries to the Selfridges group, into equity. As a result, Central Group will become the majority shareholder in the retailer and gain control of the joint venture company that oversees Selfridges Group.

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