Berggruen Says He Wants Karstadt Department Stores' Landlords to Cut Rents

Berggruen Holdings Ltd., the investment company that’s bidding for Germany’s Karstadt, wants the landlords of the insolvent department store chain to cut rents to aid the retailer’s long-term survival.

“Rents are far too high and clearly above the market level,” Nicolas Berggruen, owner and chief executive officer of the investment firm, said in a telephone interview from Sierra Leone, where he’s looking after some of his philanthropic projects.

Insolvency administrator Klaus Hubert Goerg began talks in February with potential buyers of Karstadt, which employs 25,000 people. Private-equity company Triton and Berggruen are the only bidders that identified themselves. Karstadt’s real estate is mostly owned by the Highstreet investor consortium.

Highstreet, which is 51 percent-owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is also examining the retailer’s accounts and may present a bid before a May 28 deadline for final offers, two people familiar with the matter said May 18. Highstreet may seek investment partners, including Triton, to contribute equity to an offer, one of the people said.

A spokesman for Highstreet didn’t reply to phone calls seeking comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf, Germany, at helfes@bloomberg.net;

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