White & Case is taking care of Signa’s real estate restructuring

Austrian real estate investor René Benko is handing over the chairmanship of the board of Signa Holding to German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz of SGP Schneider Geiwitz & Partner, according to a press release from Signa. Geiwitz will also take over as Chairman of the Shareholders’ Committee and will be responsible for the restructuring of the real estate and retail holding company.

“In the current situation, this is the best solution for the company, its partners, investors and employees,” Benko told the press.

Although the task now is to restore confidence, the quality of Signa’s property portfolio and planned projects, particularly in Germany, is very good. Signa is building the 245 metre high Elbtower in Hamburg, for example. The group is also the owner of department stores’ group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof.

However, due to the rise in interest rates, Signa Prime Selection suffered a devaluation of 1.17 billion euros in the previous year and this mainly affected properties in Germany. That’s why recently, several shareholders, including the Austrian Signa investor Hans-Peter Haselsteiner, asked Benko to step back.

The advisors for the restructuring

Signa has engaged several external advisors to review all business areas and to develop a holistic concept for the group. According to market information, White & Case has been mandated as legal advisor and Rothschild & Co as financial advisor for Signa Prime and Signa Development. In particular, a large and cross-practice group team from White & Case led by partners Gernot Wagner and Rebecca Emory (both pictured) is said to be advising Signa since the end of September.