German retailer Arcandor in talks with rival Metro
Stricken German retail giant Arcandor held talks Sunday with rival Metro over a possible merger of their department store chains, after hopes of government aid looked dim, an Arcandor spokesman said.
The merger talks involved Arcandor owner Karl-Gerhard Eick and Metro chief Eckhard Cordes, along with representatives of the banks Sal. Oppenheim and Goldman Sachs, the spokesman told AFP.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for a merger solution to Arcandor's financial crisis, hinting in the German press that the owner of the Karstadt department store chain, including Berlin's iconic KaDeWe, should not count on a government bailout.
"I find it unacceptable that people call on the State for help when they themselves must do something," Merkel told the Bild daily.
Arcandor, which employs 50,000 people, has applied for 650 million euros (930 million dollars) in loan guarantees and a credit line of 200 million euros from Berlin out of a government fund to help companies hit by Germany's worst postwar slump.
In addition to the department stores, Arcandor holds a 52-percent stake in Europe's second biggest tourism group Thomas Cook.