DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – German wholesaler Metro is aiming to sign a deal to sell its loss-making Real hypermarkets chain in April or May, Chief Executive Olaf Koch said.
Metro is in talks with about five parties interested in the chain with annual sales of more than 7 billion euros (6 billion pounds) and 279 outlets, he told journalists late on Thursday evening.
“We only talk to potential buyers who want to take on everything,” Koch said.
Earlier this year, Koch had said that he expected a positive price for Real due to its real estate portfolio and ecommerce business.
Industry bankers had predicted that Metro might have to effectively pay a buyer to take the chain off its hands.
Rival German chains such as Kaufland could be interested in individual stores, while private equity groups – such as Cerberus and Lone Star – have been named as potential buyers of the properties, people familiar with the industry had said.
“You can never rule out bidders forming consortiums,” Koch said.
Germany’s antitrust watchdog is expected to view with concern a takeover of Real by one of the other large hypermarket groups as it could be seen as hampering competition.
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Arno Schuetze; editing by Emelia Sithoe-Matarise)