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Still in focus:

René Benko

still has

control over some divisions of his empire

Photo: Marcel Kusch / dpa

The lenders are increasing the pressure on the restructuring administrators of the failed Signa group owned by the Austrian entrepreneur

René Benko


Creditors of the two most important companies of the insolvent Signa Holding, Prime and Development, pushed for the management to be completely stripped of power, reports the “Financial Times” (“FT”).

Several sources confirmed to manager magazin that there is great displeasure among numerous creditors at the most valuable company, Prime, which primarily houses the existing properties.

At the end of January, manager magazin reported that shareholders thought the self-managed restructuring was a bad joke.

In this form of insolvency, the old management remains in office, but under the supervision of an insolvency administrator appointed by the court.

“How can you leave a board of directors in self-administration that has never been transparent?” asked one creditor at the time.

The distrust has also been increased by the disappearance of all Prime board minutes from 2022 and 2023, as can be seen from the second report by the restructuring manager, which is available to manager magazin.

“It is therefore not directly documented in writing what the board decided and when or who influenced the activities of the board,” it says under point 8.5.1.

in the report.

Prime creditors demand end to self-government

More than two dozen international lenders such as insurers, banks and bondholders fear their interests will be overlooked in favor of a group of investors based in Austria.

Around a dozen German insurance companies are therefore calling for an end to Signa Prime's self-administration.

This emerges from a letter that the companies submitted to the Vienna District Court and which is available to the “FT”.

The letter said the company's management was "not acting in the best interests of creditors" and had made a number of decisions that created "an imminent risk of significant harm to creditors."

However, at Signa Development, which brings together numerous development projects, the fronts do not seem to be so hardened.

An information event on Monday of this week was more satisfactory from the perspective of many creditors because the responsible restructuring administrator made far-reaching promises.

“It’s going in the right direction,” summed up a creditor of a bond issued to Development to manager magazin.

“Lack of transparency worrying for creditors”

Signa Holding, the parent company of the Benko empire, is now managed by the independent restructuring manager

Christof Stapf

, while the two subsidiaries that make up the majority of Signa's assets are still managed under self-management and therefore with the involvement of Benko confidants.

A Signa lender described self-administration to the Financial Times as "one of the most secretive restructuring instruments in Europe" and said that the "lack of transparency" in the process was very damaging to Austria's reputation and extremely worrying for creditors.

Just a few days ago, Signa Prime announced that it would sell valuable objects in Austria as part of the insolvency proceedings.

As the insolvency administration announced, among other things, the building of the Austrian Constitutional Court, the luxury hotel Park Hyatt Vienna and the upscale shopping mile “Goldenes Quartier” in Vienna are to find new owners.

The creditors criticize the “Financial Times” that in the past Signa properties worth hundreds of millions of euros were sold or transferred to related parties without the liquidation process being transparent.

The letter to the court complains that they have repeatedly suggested engaging “an internationally renowned real estate expert” to oversee a “coordinated and transparent liquidation of the portfolio”.

So far without success.

On the contrary: research by manager magazin into the insolvency of the KaDeWe department stores shows how

Benko continues to rip off his business partners to this day.