By  on June 22, 2009

BERLIN — German shopping center developer Management für Immobilien AG (Mfi-Group) has emerged as a second potential candidate to take over some of the 90 insolvent Karstadt department store doors. But the Essen-based group denied reports it is actively pursuing plans to bid for any of the Karstadt properties.

“The reports were a bit exaggerated,” Mfi spokesman Olaf Plotke told WWD. He said the subject of Karstadt merely came up in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, which asked how many of the department store doors the group thought could be developed into shopping centers. “We said 20 were plausible, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily want to take them over or that we’re in negotiations,” said Plotke.

He pointed out none of the Karstadt doors are currently up for sale. When and if they come on the market, the shopping center specialist will evaluate “which formats could be implemented and which are interesting for us.” He said there were no specific size requirements in regard to both square footage and city population. “Sometimes a small city can be interesting, or a small space where its possible to buy adjoining properties. There is no template,” said Plotke.

Mfi is one of Germany’s largest shopping center developers, with more than 20 centers throughout the country.

The Metro Group, which operates 113 Galeria Kaufhof doors in Germany, has expressed interest in taking over 60 Karstadt doors — both before and after Karstadt’s parent company Arcandor filed for insolvency earlier this month. However, Metro warned time was running out.

Arcandor put all talks with Metro on hold, saying the merger was not a priority during bankruptcy proceedings and that Metro wasn’t Karstadt’s only possible partner.

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