René Benko. Credit: provided
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Investor René Benko requests government assistance for his companies

The department store group Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt is in trouble.

The corona crisis makes even major players anxious. These days, investor and billionaire René Benko has to worry about his department store group Galerie Kaufhof and Karstadt. He is negotiating with the German government about aid funds.

“Existential threat“

The company is of course affected by the shutdown of stores. On Friday, its approximately 30,000 employees received a letter from their managing director: The company is facing an “existential threat” and therefore has to withhold 15 percent of its March salaries–the company also applied for short-time work.

However, short-time work does not seem to be enough: According to an internal paper, there are currently “ongoing talks with banks to meet the extensive requirements that are necessary to receive governmental aid funds.”

Benko’s money is not enough

According to the Austrian daily newspaper “Kurier”, multi-billion parent company Signa Holding (profits in 2018: 1 billion euros, liquidity reserves of approximately 1.2 billion euros by the end of 2019), which is owned René Benko (with private assets in the amount of 4.1 billion euros), is prepared to help out with money, but apparently this is not enough.

The department store group’s otherwise weekly revenue of 80 million euros just disappeared –“substantial costs” are continuously incurred during this crisis. According to reports of “Manager Magazin”, the Galeria Kaufhof Karstadt Group needs a “hundreds of millions” to get through this crisis.

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