Triton Gets More Time on Karstadt Bid

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – European buyout firm Triton has won more time to negotiate a deal to buy insolvent German department store chain Karstadt after asking for further concessions from workers and landlords.

The creditor committee of Karstadt has agreed to extend the deadline for the sale to May 28, having initially aimed to close the deal by the end of April, Karstadt’s administrator Klaus-Hubert Goerg said.

“The deadline was just too tight and we didn’t want to jeopardise Karstadt’s future,” he said.

Triton is the only bidder to emerge and has presented a strategic concept to continue operating the chain as a going concern while demanding further sacrifices from owners of Karstadt’s real estate and its work force.

Both had already made concessions for the administrator’s insolvency plan. Goerg told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that he could well imagine both parties would seriously try to come up with constructive results.

“I think Triton has made a solid offer,” Goerg said. “Triton’s plan is quite ambitious and includes significant investments. That would be good for Karstadt,” he added.

First-half earnings of the department store chain, which was part of German tourism and retail group Arcandor (AROG.DE) that filed for insolvency in June last year, came in above its own expectations, Goerg said. Sales were slightly below forecasts.

“We have raised margins,” Goerg said.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that the Highstreet consortium led by Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), which owns about two-thirds of the Karstadt store space, was considering a takeover of Karstadt if no other investor emerged.

Goerg said that the consortium had not bid so far.

He added that he assumed Highstreet would not block a deal with Triton in the end. (Reporting by Alexander Huebner and Eva Kuehnen; Editing by Michael Shields)