By  on June 4, 2009

BERLIN — Metro Group’s financial chief Thomas Unger said 60 of Arcandor’s 90 Karstadt doors could easily be integrated into Metro’s Galeria Kaufhof chain, lending credence to its hopes for a fusion of Germany’s biggest department store players.

He suggested Arcandor’s 30 remaining department store doors could work for other retail chains, including Metro’s electronics retailer Saturn.

The merger, which would result in a group of about 170 stores under what is being called Deutsche Warenhaus AG, or German Department Store Inc., is seen by many as Arcandor’s most promising life preserver. Arcandor, however, is still placing its hopes on a government bailout and said it expects the government to make a decision on Monday.

The troubled department store, catalogue and travel group chain needs a federal loan guarantee of 650 million euros, or $922.3 million at current exchange, by June 12 to ensure its survival and has also applied for a short-term state loan of 200 million euros, or $282 million.

With elections coming up and 50,000 jobs on the line, the issue has become a political hot potato. The naysayers, however, gained support from the European Union on Wednesday when EU commissioner Neelie Kroes said Arcandor had significant structural problems prior to the financial crisis and thus does not meet requirements for state aid.

In yet another twist, SPD Chancellor candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier has reportedly held out the prospect of a federally guaranteed loan of 450 million euros, or $635.8 million, to help Arcandor avoid bankruptcy. According to a report to appear in the Friday edition of the Rheinische Post, the loan from the state owned KfW bank would be dependent on Arcandor’s major shareholders, the Sal. Oppenheim bank and Quelle heiress Madeleine Schickedanz, further investing between 100 and 200 million euros, or $141 million to $282 million. The deal reportedly also stipulates a binding agreement to further pursue merger plans with Metro.

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