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Signa construction site in Düsseldorf: New insolvency applications

Photo: Michael Gstettenbauer / IMAGO

Two other subsidiaries of the Signa Group, owned by Austrian real estate investor René Benko, have filed for insolvency. According to a spokesman, Signa Financial Services, based in Frankfurt am Main, and Signa REM Germany, based in Munich, submitted corresponding applications to the Charlottenburg District Court. In both cases, the court appointed lawyer Torsten Martini as provisional insolvency administrator.

Previously, Signa Real Estate Management had already filed for insolvency with the Berlin court. Here, too, Martini is the provisional insolvency administrator. The holding company Signa Holding had applied for restructuring proceedings in self-administration in Vienna, and the court had appointed the lawyer Christof Stapf as insolvency administrator.

Wrong numbers at the Elbtower?

The nested Signa Group is the most spectacular insolvency case to date as a result of the massive structural changes in the real estate market. Benko's extensive network of companies also includes the German department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. Insiders expect that other Signa companies will file for insolvency.

On the other hand, the case of the Elbtower, which also belongs to the Benko empire, could still grow into a political scandal. According to information from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen (Helaba), one of the largest lenders of the construction project, had confirmed that 30 percent of the office space in the Elbtower has already been rented. The City of Hamburg had made this a condition for the transfer of the property to Signa.

Another condition before the sale of the land was "that all further construction and planning costs of the construction project are bindingly financed," as the "FAZ" quotes from a statement of the Senate in a printed matter of the parliament.

In the summer of 2022, Helaba had promised Signa a loan of 150 million euros for the construction of the Elbtower and, as a so-called lead arranger, wanted to collect a total of 750 million euros in loan volume via a consortium of several banks. However, the plan failed.