The Austrian real estate empire Signa Holding, co-owner of the famous Chrysler Building in New York and department store chains in Europe, announced in a press release on Wednesday that it was filing for bankruptcy.
“Despite the considerable efforts of recent weeks, it was not possible to raise sufficient funds” to avoid this outcome, explained the company, which now hopes to implement a restructuring plan under the supervision of an administrator. of the court.
Austrian billionaire René Benko has withdrawn
It now hopes to implement a restructuring plan “autonomously” under the supervision of a receiver. The goal is to freeze the repayment of its debts while the company is reorganized. Faced with the financial difficulties of his holding company founded in 2000, which oversees a myriad of companies, Austrian billionaire René Benko stepped aside in November, leaving the reins to an expert in restructuring operations.
Investments in retail “have not brought the expected success” in a context of “strong economic pressure”, specifies Signa, who also mentions the unfavorable development of the real estate sector. During a spectacular expansion, the opaquely functioning holding company has accumulated real estate assets worth 27 billion euros.
Material costs are soaring
But its debts have piled up as the sector is hit by the sharp rise in interest rates after years of benefiting from cheap credit. Successive global crises (pandemic, war in Ukraine, etc.) have also caused the costs of construction materials to soar, while weighing on the activity of department stores.
Already, several subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy and emblematic projects have been suspended, particularly in Germany where the group is very present. In Hamburg, the Elbtower construction site is at a standstill. The group has also withdrawn from the historic British brand Selfridges, which has come under the control of the Thai Central Group.