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‘Homeless Billionaire’ Nicolas Berggruen Finally Lets Go of failing Karstadt Department Store

Nicolas Berggruen

After the change of ownership at Karstadt, the leadership of the ailing department store chain is losing no more time going into the renovation phase, the German website Financial.de reported.

“There is much to do, we will take the next important steps, ” said Supervisory Board Chairman Stephan Fanderl. “With the new owners in place, now there is finally clarity.”

On Friday it was announced that the former owner Nicolas Berggruen sold the remaining 83 Karstadt department stores and the remaining stake in the premium stores and in the 28 sports stores, for one euro, to the Austrian investor Rene Benko.

Investor Nicolas Berggruen, the son of Jewish art collector Heinz Berggruen, is the founder and president of Berggruen Holdings, a private investment company. The press has sometimes referred to Berggruen as “the homeless billionaire, ” because he lives in hotels and does not own a home.

This Thursday, the Supervisory Board will advise as to the plans for reorganization.

According to the report, Benko’s rescue plan calls for the closing of persistently losing Karstadt stores. Attractive locations should therefore be transformed into shopping malls, involving brand dealers. The group itself will be reorganized. In the end, Benko’s plan is to create a German super-department store merging Karstadt with its rival Kaufhof.

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