FRANKFURT (Reuters) — German retail giant Metro AG, which owns the Kaufhof chain of department stores, on Saturday said it had held exploratory talks about purchasing rival Karstadt, adding it was not aggressively pursuing a deal.

“We held loose talks. It was not more than that, and it will not go beyond this in the foreseeable future,” a spokeswoman for Metro said on Saturday in an e-mailed statement.
“We see no need to take action or any cause for doing anything further,” Metro added, without elaborating.

Speculation has long swirled about a possible merger between the two former giants of German retail. In July Metro had ruled out considering a deal.

Metro acknowledged talks had taken place following a report in Focus magazine, which said the owner of the Karstadt department stores had renewed efforts to merge with Kaufhof and recently met a top manager who works for the German rival, the German publication said without citing sources.

Austrian investor René Benko is said to have met Metro strategy chief and manager Christian Baier, Focus magazine said in an advance excerpt of its Monday edition.
Benko was not immediately available for comment.

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