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Karstadt Plans to Form Three Legally Independent Businesses

Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH, Germany’s biggest department store chain, will form three legally independent divisions to improve the company’s performance.

Karstadt will start the separation into a department store, a sports outlet, and a premium business immediately, the Essen, Germany-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. The separation will be completed in the second half.

Karstadt, which entered insolvency procedures in 2009, was acquired by U.S. investor Nicolas Berggruen in September. He has said repeatedly that he sees Karstadt as a long-term investment and has no exit strategy.

“Our shareholder remains fully committed to systematically develop all three divisions on a long-term basis,” Jared Bluestein, chairman of Karstadt’s supervisory board, said in the statement.

Karstadt named Harald Fraszczak as its chief financial officer, in a separate statement. He succeeds the restructuring expert Josef Schultheis, who has been interim chief financial officer of Karstadt since October, according to the statement.

Karstadt’s first department store opened in 1881, during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Its West Berlin outlet -- Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe -- was an icon of capitalism during the Cold War.

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