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credit: Signa Group
credit: Signa Group

Chronology – The Collapse Of The Signa Empire

Signa Group has become the largest insolvency case in Austria’s history, and also one of the biggest in Europe. In the following, we present a detailed chronology of Signa´s collapse.

December2022
Signa sells “Rossmarkthöfe” projectThe “Rossmarkthöfe” project in St. Pölten has been sold.
St. Pölten, Austria
May2023
Signa sells Apple HausSigna sells Apple-Haus in Vienna. The property with its well-known tenant, an Apple Store, was sold to JR Investment GmbH for around 95 million euros.
Vienna, Austria
June2023
Signa sells entire Kika/Leiner real estate portfolioSigna sells the entire Kika/Leiner real estate portfolio to Supernova Invest. The furniture retailer is subsequently sent into insolvency.
June2023
Signa Prime sells in full the “Mynd” office high-rise and “Galeria Weltstadthaus”Signa Prime has sold in full the “Mynd” office high-rise and “Galeria Weltstadthaus” store at Berlin Alexanderplatz to Commerz Real´s open-ended real estate fund Hausinvest; To date the real assets subsidiary of Commerzbank has held a stake of 20 per cent in the complex; SIGNA will continue to accompany its realization in a lead capacity as the project development partner.
Berlin, Germany
June2023
Signa sells Viennese Timber Marina TowerSigna sells Viennese timber high-rise Marina Tower project (formerly known as Donaumarina Tower) to UBM.
Vienna, Austria
July2023
Signa Holding secures a 400-million-euro cash injectionShareholders such as René Benko, major STRABAG shareholder Hans Peter Haselsteiner, and Fressnapf founder Torsten Toeller have injected additional funds to cushion the tense situation on the real estate market.
August2023
European Central Bank urges banks to partially write off loans to SignaNot all of the company’s lenders are confronted with this request from the ECB. The resulting loss of profits is also unlikely to be large enough to put a strain on the banks’ capital reserves.
August2023
Signa announces that it has sold assets with a total volume of around two billion euros in recent months
23
August2023
Creditreform withdraws rating for Signa Prime Selection
16
October2023
Signa Holding has canceled a planned capital injection of 150 million euros for Signa SportsSigna Holding has canceled a planned capital injection of 150 million euros for the sporting goods retailer Signa Sports.
17
October2023
Signa sells German sporting goods retailer SportScheckSigna sells German sporting goods retailer SportScheck to British sports and fashion retailer Frasers.
23
October2023
Benko brings restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz on boardRestructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz already worked for him in 2020 as insolvency administrator of the German department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof.
27
October2023
Signa Sports United files for insolvency
27
October2023
Construction stop at Hamburg’s ElbtowerAccording to the construction company Lupp, the shell of the building has been completed at a height of around 100 meters. The Elbe Tower is set to reach a height of 245 meters. In total, construction is expected to cost just under one billion euros.
Hamburg, Germany
2
November2023
Signa Holding shareholders demand René Benko’s withdrawalThe German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz is to become Signa’s chief representative.
7
November2023
Credit rating agency Fitch classifies Signa bonds as “high risk”In a restructuring analysis, Fitch assumes “that Signa Development will be liquidated in the event of insolvency and will not be reorganized as a going concern”.
8
November2023
Signa declares that Benko will hand over his chairmanship of the Signa advisory board to Geiwitz
10
November2023
Geiwitz brings in the German Ralf Schmitz as restructuring officer for Signa Prime and Signa DevelopmentHe also joins the Management Board as Chief Restructuring Officer.
15
November2023
Signa’s stake in Selfridges reduces to 45 percentThe Thai half-partner Central Group is now the majority shareholder with 55%.
23
November2023
Signa halts work on the Alte Akademie in Munich
Munich, Germany
24
November2023
Signa Real Estate Management Germany files for bankruptcy in BerlinThe decision shows that Signa Prime is apparently no longer able to provide its subsidiaries with sufficient capital.
Berlin, Germany
26
November2023
Logistics entrepreneur and Signa investor Klaus-Michael Kühne examines the takeover of the Elbtower high-rise project in Hamburg
27
November2023
Signa negotiates with US hedge fund Elliot for urgently needed capital injection
29
November2023
Restructuring proceedings in self-administration have been opened at the Commercial Court of Vienna for Signa Holding
Vienna, Austria
29
November2023
The Board of Directors and the management of Swiss Signa Retail Selection AG are applying to the responsible court for a “debt restructuring moratorium”This is intended to separate the business from the insolvent Austrian parent company and liquidate it in an orderly manner.
1
December2023
Signa brings the Austrian restructuring expert Erhard Grossnigg on board as an additional board member at Signa Prime Selection and Signa Development Selection
6
December2023
Three other Signa subsidiaries in Germany are insolvent – Signa Financial Services GmbH, Signa REM Germany Rent GmbH and SCAx GmbH
Germany
6
December2023
The provisional debt restructuring moratorium applied for by Swiss Signa Retail Selection AG has been approved for a period of four monthsThe provisional debt restructuring moratorium applied for by Swiss Signa Retail Selection AG at the District Court of Zurich has been approved for a period of four months. This gives the company, which holds a 50 percent stake in Swiss luxury department store Globus, among others, until April 5 to settle the liquidation of Signa Retail independently.
Zurich, Switzerland
8
December2023
Signa Development Finance states that it is likely that it, Signa Development and other companies in the Signa Development Group will file for insolvency proceedings “in the very near future”
11
December2023
Signa fires the CEO of its two most important subsidiaries, Signa Prime and Signa Development, Timo Herzberg, without notice due to questionable business dealingsErhard Grossnigg takes over the function of CEO at Signa Prime and Signa Development.
12
December2023
The IT subsidiary of the real estate group, Signa Informationstechnologie GmbH, files for insolvency at the Vienna Commercial CourtRestructuring proceedings without self-administration were opened for the real estate group’s IT service company. The insolvency affects 49 employees. The liabilities amount to 24,1 million euros.
Vienna, Austria
12
December2023
The property developer Signa Development is on the verge of insolvency in the eyes of the rating agency FitchIn view of the imminent filing for insolvency, it has downgraded the company’s credit rating from “CCC-“ to “C”.
13
December2023
The Zurich District Court has granted three further Swiss companies the insolvency form of provisional debt restructuring moratoriumThe affected companies are Signa European Invest Holding AG, Signa European Invest AG and Signa Retail Luxury Holding GmbH (Signa’s investments in Globus, Selfridges and the KaDeWe Group are to be bundled in Signa European Invest Holding).
Zurich, Switzerland
19
December2023
First creditors’ meeting and report meeting on the insolvent Signa Holding GmbH at the Commercial Court of ViennaThe Chrysler Building in New York, the media holdings in the Austrian “Kurier” and “Krone”, and the company’s private jet are up for sale. The rental agreements for the company headquarters in two inner-city palaces in Vienna have already been terminated.
Vienna, Austria
21
December2023
The two central management bodies of the insolvent Signa Holding, the Advisory Board and the Group Executive Board, have been completely dissolvedThe Group Executive Board was responsible for operational and strategic management. Benko was Chairman of the Board until his departure in November.
28
December2023
Signa Prime Selection files for insolvency at the Commercial Court of Vienna
Vienna, Austria
29
December2023
Signa Development in insolvency with self-administrationThe property developer’s over-indebtedness amounts to around 1 billion euros.
8
January2024
Insolvency of Signa Real Estate Management GmbHThe branch has 47 employees and debts of 58,3 million euros.
9
January2024
Signa subsidiary Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof files for insolvencyAround 90 department stores and more than 15,000 employees are affected.
10
January2024
Bankruptcy proceedings at Signa Hospitality and Signa REM TransactionsAccording to the Austrian Creditreform Association, Signa Hospitality and REM are to be closed.
15
January2024
Creditors’ meetings of Signa Prime and Development at the Vienna Commercial CourtInsolvency court sees no reasons to revoke self-administration in the restructuring proceedings. As with Holding, a creditors’ committee will also be set up for Signa Prime.
Vienna, Austria
19
January2024
The owner of the Elbtower property, Elbtower Immobilien GmbH & Co. KG, has filed for insolvency
Hamburg, Germany
29
January2024
Signa´s luxury department store chain KaDeWe files for insolvencyA total of 1900 employees are affected. Spar signals interest in taking over the Viennese Lamarr department store, which is also affected by the major bankruptcy.
29
January2024
According to the insolvency administrator of Signa Holding, Christof Stapf, creditors have now filed claims amounting to 8.6 billion eurosThe insolvency administrator of Signa Holding, Christof Stapf, presented his second report on the insolvency proceedings, a restructuring process that is now taking place without self-administration, to the creditors at an audit hearing at the Commercial Court of Vienna. He has provisionally denied the vast majority of claims and has only acknowledged claims amounting to 80.3 million euros, i.e. less than one percent.
Vienna, Austria
31
January2024
The Finanzprokuratur, lawyer and legal advisor for the Republic of Austria, has filed an insolvency petition against Signa founder and co-owner René Benko with the responsible insolvency court at the Innsbruck Regional Court
Innsbruck, Austria
2
February2024
Project company of Viennese “LAMARR” files for insolvencyThe project company responsible for the construction of the Lamarr department store in Vienna has filed for insolvency proceedings at the Vienna Commercial Court. The completion of the construction work and the opening of the department store was planned for the end of 2025. However, according to Crteditreform, due to the Signa Group’s crisis and, in particular, the restructuring process of Signa Prime Selection, financing for completion is no longer assured.
Vienna, Austria
5
February2024
Creditors of Signa have filed a criminal complaint and called for an urgent investigation into the collapsed real estate group The complaint was filed end of January by a Viennese law firm on behalf of a whole group of international and institutional investors, who are long-term lenders to Signa, with the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA).
Vienna, Austria
13
February2024
Signa launches sale of Park Hyatt, the Constitutional Clourt building, and the Golden QuarterSigna Prime Selection is starting to sell well-known properties in Vienna and Innsbruck. As part of the restructuring process under self-administration, the stake in Signa Prime Assets GmbH is now being sold. The investment includes the Park Hyatt, Goldenes Quartier and Constitutional Court building in Vienna and the Tyrol department store in Innsbruck.
28
February2024
Signa creditors push to oust management over property fire sale fearsCreditors of the two most important companies in the bankrupt Signa property group — Signa Prime and Signa Holding — are pushing to oust management and hand over control to independent auditors, over fears their interests are being sidelined in favour of a tightly knit group of investors based in Austria, reports the Financial Times.