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February 22, 2024
PI Global Investments

Rene Benko’s property empire auctions off doormats in scramble for cash

Among those most exposed is the Austrian bank Raiffeisen, which is thought to have lent Signa more than €750m, and the Swiss lender Julius Baer, which is reportedly on the hook for €640m. Italy’s Unicredit, Credit Suisse, and Germany’s Commerzbank are also believed to be facing heavy losses.

It emerged earlier this week Mr Benko also risks losing his luxury alpine villa after tax officials placed a claim against the property.

Mr Benko was ousted from Signa late last year.

The embattled property company had amassed some of the world’s most iconic properties, including the Chrysler Building in New York and Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department store – some of which could be up for grabs in a looming fire sale. 

Signa boomed in the era of cheap debt, although high interest rates and plummeting valuations pushed the company to the brink.

The business bought Selfridges in a £4bn deal in 2021 with Thailand’s Central Group.

However, the Thai retailer has since seized control of the British retailer after it became a majority shareholder in November last year.

Signa was contacted for comment.

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