Jun 10, 2009
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Metro denies speculation about Italian investor

Jun 10, 2009

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, June 10 (Reuters) - German retailer Metro (MEOG.DE) on Wednesday 10 June denied a press report it was thinking about selling to an Italian investor the combined department store group it hopes to create with insolvent Arcandor's (AROG.DE) Karstadt chain.

German business daily Handelsblatt reported earlier that Metro's Chief Executive Eckhard Cordes was already seeking a buyer for the planned new entity, and the paper cited investment bank sources as saying Italian businessman Maurizio Borletti had was interested.

"I can clearly deny any speculation about an Italian investor. This is completely unfounded," a Metro spokesman said.

Borletti, who was not immediately available for comment, was quoted by Handelsblatt as saying: "There are discussions at the moment in which we have taken part. But in light of the delicate situation, I prefer not to comment."

Shares in Arcandor gained 27.3 percent to 0.700 euros at 1234 GMT, having lost almost 50 percent on Tuesday 9 June, while Metro shares were up 3.6 percent.

"Arcandor's stock has become a pure penny stock, and there is plenty of speculation involved. I'd say keep away from gambling," said a local trader.

Metro CEO Eckhard Cordes has been pushing to take over 60 Karstadt department stores from Arcandor, which collapsed into insolvency on Tuesday 9 June, and merge them with Metro's Kaufhof stores to create a new "German Department Store Inc."

Arcandor, one of Germany's biggest retailers, filed for insolvency after the government rejected its request for state aid. (Reporting by Nikola Rotscheroth in Duesseldorf and Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt; Editing by David Cowell)

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