BERLIN (Reuters) - The founder of Media-Saturn, the consumer electronics group owned by Metro MEOG.DE, is considering a legal challenge to the German retailer’s plan to split into two companies, potentially delaying the move.
Shareholders in Metro overwhelmingly voted on Monday to back a plan to split off the group’s wholesale and hypermarket food business from Media-Saturn, Europe’s biggest consumer electronics group, to be renamed Ceconomy.
Billionaire Erich Kellerhals still owns a stake of close to 22 percent in Media-Saturn and has regularly clashed with Metro over its management of the business.
He is preparing a legal challenge to the split, a spokesman for his investment firm Convergenta said on Tuesday, but added it was not yet decided whether or when the challenge would be filed.
Kellerhals has four weeks from the shareholder meeting to lodge a challenge. If he proceeds, it could delay Metro’s plans to split, which it wants to happen by the middle of the year.
Metro’s shares were down 2.6 percent at 1205 GMT as they traded ex-dividend.
Late last year, Convergenta proposed Clemens Vedder as a mediator to try to resolve the dispute with Metro, an effort that was due to continue after the shareholders’ meeting.
Metro hopes the split will help the independent companies pursue more acquisitions and trigger a revaluation of the stock as Metro currently trades at a discount to other pure wholesale retailers such as Sysco (SYY.N) and Britain’s Booker (BOK.L).
Media-Saturn, which runs more than 1,000 stores in 15 countries in Europe, has long been seen as a candidate to merge with its closest rival in the region, Britain’s Dixons Carphone (DC.L).
Reporting by Matthias Inverardi Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter