October 29, 2019 / 4:21 PM / 14 days ago

Benko's Signa likely to bid for Switzerland's Globus: sources

ZURICH (Reuters) - Austrian investor Rene Benko’s Signa Holding is likely to submit an offer for Swiss department store chain Globus, with bids due by the end of November, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Migros [MIGRO.UL], Switzerland’s second-biggest retailer, has put Globus as well as the Depot and Interio home furnishings businesses and its m-way electric bicycle unit up for sale to focus more on core operations and online commerce.

Signa Holding, which acquired full control of German department store giant Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof this year, is expected to bid for Globus, but many other parties both in Switzerland and abroad have shown interest, the sources said.

Dozens of parties were interested, a source said, but only a handful were likely to emerge as serious suitors.

Migros, which has already found a buyer for m-way, mandated investment bank Alantra (ALNTA.MC) and real estate firm CBRE (CBRE.N) to handle the more difficult Globus sale, the sources said. Migros has said it expects the sale of Globus, Interio and Depot to take “a longer time”.

“Migros will choose the new owner of Globus very carefully and has a clear preference for an investor who invests in the company and continues to develop and manage it successfully in a challenging market environment,” a spokesman for Migros said.

Revenues at up-market department store Globus, which is facing competition from online retailers like Amazon (AMZN.O), fell 5.7% last year to 808 million Swiss francs ($812 million).

Globus Chief Executive Thomas Herbert, who has expressed interest in a management buyout, has been trying to reignite growth by focusing on online sales and moving further into the premium and luxury segment.

One of the sources said Migros would prefer selling not just Globus stores but also the property associated with them. Globus has 49 stores and Migros owns several of the properties, including a large one on Zurich’s exclusive Bahnhofstrasse shopping mile and locations in Basel, Bern and St. Gallen.

Migros said it was still open whether Globus would be sold with our without the real estate.

Migros would like to avoid negative headlines linked to store closures and job losses, one of the sources said, adding:

“Reputation is everything for Migros.”

Signa Holding said last month that it increased its capital by 1.2 billion euros ($1.33 billion) to have more firepower for acquisitions.

The sales process for Depot, which sells decorative items, has also started and is being handled by investment bank DC Advisory, people familiar with the situation said.

DC Advisory, Alantra, CBRE and Signa declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Kirsti Knolle; Writing by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Shields

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