Following the sale of a portion of its ownership in the department store, a significant shareholder of Selfridges has entered insolvency due to challenges in securing additional funds.
Signa, a company from Austria owned by Rene Benko, has acknowledged its incapacity to acquire the “necessary liquidity” amidst “severe economic pressure,” despite extensive efforts in recent weeks.
Last year, the company acquired Selfridges as part of a joint venture in a £4bn deal with Thailand’s Central Group, resulting in around £1.7bn in debt for the two firms.
Until earlier this month, Benko’s company had joint control over the property and operating firms of Selfridges, before Central Group gained majority ownership of the trading company.
During this time, Benko was removed from his firm by shareholders and is currently endeavoring to regain control of his £20bn empire after facing professional and personal setbacks, including a police raid on his offices in Austria. Benko has refuted any allegations of misconduct and has not faced charges.
Signa still holds a 50% stake in Selfridges’ property company, which includes the flagship Oxford Street store, and retains a minority stake in the Selfridges operating business.
Experts in restructuring are expected to explore the sale of Signa’s stakes as part of efforts to recover from insolvency.
The situation concerning Selfridges has prompted concerns about potential changes in property ownership. A spokesperson for Selfridges has assured the public that the support from Central Group remains robust and that the situation has no impact on the regular operations and obligations of Selfridges. Additionally, a spokesperson for Central Group has emphasized the company’s dedication to supporting their European luxury stores, highlighting their stable financial position and access to diverse funding sources.
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