Central Group Shows Interest in Acquiring Signa Retail Assets

Thailand’s leading retailer Central Group is looking to acquire more real estate assets from the bankrupt Austrian company Signa, which includes properties like KaDeWe in Germany and Selfridges in London, as reported by Business Insider on Saturday.

According to a report in German that cites unidentified sources from the Thai firm, Central is aiming to acquire Signa’s entire luxury group. This acquisition would also encompass other notable sites such as Alsterhaus in Hamburg, Oberpollinger in Munich, and Globus in Switzerland.

It was mentioned in the report that Central has already made significant investments in Signa’s portfolio of luxury assets.

Attempts to reach Central for a statement were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the restructuring team of Signa chose not to comment on the matter.

Signa, established by the magnate Rene Benko, has emerged as a major victim of the real estate downturn in Europe, facing claims from creditors amounting to billions of euros.

The conglomerate’s parent entity, positioned at the nexus of an intricate network comprising hundreds of companies, has announced bankruptcy, as have its two primary divisions, Signa Prime and Signa Development.

Discussions are underway between Central Group and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia regarding the prestigious Selfridges department store in London, as indicated by a Business Insider article.

The goal for Central is to increase its ownership in Selfridges to 60% and gain managerial dominance of the business, according to the article.

In January, Central Retail Corporation expressed its willingness to further invest in Selfridges should the conditions prove favorable.

The firm indicated that it would evaluate any prospective investments for their strategic fit with Central Retail’s business objectives, fair valuation, and optimal timing, as communicated to the Stock Exchange of Thailand at that time.

Last November, Central Group acquired a majority stake in the joint-venture companies running the Selfridges Group by converting a loan into equity.

This move allowed Central Group to gain control over additional department stores within the Selfridges Group, such as Brown Thomas Arnotts in Ireland and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

The Chirathivat family, among the nation’s wealthiest, privately manages the investment in KaDeWe through Central Group, distinct from its publicly traded entities, Central Retail and Central Pattana.

Currently, Central Group boasts the title of operating the largest international network of department stores, with 120 venues in 80 cities across 11 countries.