By  on July 17, 2009

BERLIN — Shares of Arcandor AG recovered late Friday after the resignation of a key member of Arcandor’s insolvency restructuring team sent the German department store, catalogue and travel group’s stock tumbling earlier.

Horst Piepenburg, one of Germany’s leading insolvency experts, stepped down as the authorized representative of the Arcandor management board on Thursday, citing insufficient support from the group’s largest shareholder, private bank Sal. Oppenheim Jr. & Cie.

Speculation that the private bank is reconsidering its involvement with Arcandor has been building since Sal. Oppenheim sold its direct 3.7 percent stake in the group last month. Sal. Oppenheim continues to hold a 24.9 percent Arcandor stake through its industry holdings company, but is no longer the group’s largest shareholder. That distinction has returned to Quelle heiress Madeleine Schickedanz, who holds 26 percent.

Arcandor said Piepenburg’s resignation would not have an impact on the group’s insolvency application proceedings, which are expected to last until the end of August. On June 9, Arcandor AG filed to open bankruptcy proceedings for the group, as well as the Karstadt department store division, Primondo catalogue division, including Quelle GmbH, and in the subsequent weeks, a total of 40 other subsidiaries, as well.

Piepenburg is the co-founder of Piepenburg & Gerling, a leading bankruptcy law firm in Germany.

Arcandor shares fell almost 11 percent early Friday to 0.43 euros, or 61 cents at current exchange, just above their 52-week low of 0.42 euros, or 59 cents. They picked up to close at 0.46 euros, or 65 cents, down 2.6 percent for the day, but ended the week 94.4 percent below their 52-week high of 8.18 euros, or $11.53.

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