German retailer Metro says split to go ahead despite shareholder suits

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The German retail conglomerate Metro confirmed on on Friday that shareholders had filed suits with a German court against its plans to split itself in two.

Metro said that in total four suits had been served against its plan, which involves spinning off its food businesses into a new company which will keep the name Metro. The remaining business, built around its Media-Saturn electronics arm, will be renamed Ceconomy.

One of the suits was filed by Convergenta, the investment vehicle of billionaire Erich Kellerhals, who founded and still owns 21.6 per cent of Media-Saturn, and has clashed frequently with Metro’s management in recent years. A spokesman for Convergenta said however that the two parties were still in talks to resolve their long-running dispute.

Metro said that despite the suits, it still expected to go ahead with the demerger, and list the new shares for the food business by the middle of the year.

“The shareholders of Metro AG, at the annual general meeting, approved the plans for the demerger of Metro Group with 99.95 per cent of the voting capital represented”, says Olaf Koch, chief executive.

“We consider ourselves well-prepared for any legal dispute. We continue to expect that the demerger will become effective in mid-2017.”

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