Thailand’s Central Buys German Luxury Retail Property Kadewe

Thai retailer Central Group has acquired the landmark KaDeWe property in central Berlin from the insolvent Austrian company Signa in what it said was another step towards buying the group.

Central said in a statement on Friday that it was optimistic about talks to acquire the entire KaDeWe Group, which includes Alsterhaus in Hamburg, and Oberpollinger in Munich.

The Thai retailer already holds a 50.1 percent majority stake in the group.

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

The insolvent Signa Prime, which owns shares in the KaDeWe luxury department stores, declined to comment.

The purchase price for the building, a popular tourist destination in Berlin, was reported by the German business daily Handelsblatt at roughly 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion).

Central did not say how much it paid for the property.

Signa, the property empire founded by tycoon Rene Benko, has been one of the biggest casualties of Europe’s real estate crisis, with creditors filing claims worth billions of euros.

The group’s holding company, which sits at the centre of a web of hundreds of firms, has declared insolvency, as have its two most important units, Signa Prime and Signa Development.

By Matthias Inverardi, Chayut Setboonsarng, Francois Murphy and Miranda Murray; Editors: Friederike Heine and Rachel More

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