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Viennese Signa department store project Lamarr files for bankruptcy

The future of what is currently probably Vienna's most prominent shell building is even more uncertain as of today. The project company behind the planned Lamarr department store on Vienna's Mariahilfer Strasse filed for bankruptcy proceedings with the Vienna Commercial Court on Friday, the creditor protection organizations AKV, Creditreform and KSV1870 announced.

Due to the insolvency of the Signa flagship Signa Prime Selection, the financing of the construction completion is no longer secured. The now insolvent Signa project company "Mariahilfer Strasse 10-18 Immobilien GmbH" owes banks 260 million euros and suppliers 16.5 million euros, according to creditor protectors. In total, around 77 creditors are affected. In addition, the property is encumbered with a lien of 390 million euros.

Prestige project in Vienna

The Signa company, led by Tyrolean investor Rene Benko, was founded in 2021 with the aim of building and developing a large department store and hotel. Previously, the flagship store of the Leiner furniture chain stood at this address, and the top floor was occupied by the former Kika/Leiner owner Herbert Koch and his family.

The multi-storey department store, named after the Vienna-born Hollywood diva and inventor Hedy Lamarr, was due to open in spring 2025. With the Signa bankruptcies, the project has become increasingly quiet and construction work has effectively been at a standstill since December. The shell of the building was completed in June 2023 and Signa invited media representatives to a rooftop press event.

"Whether the company intends to continue as a going concern and reduce its debt cannot be assessed at the present time," writes the Alpine Creditors' Association (AKV). According to KSV1870, the company has made intensive efforts in recent weeks to secure the necessary financing to complete the construction work.

In particular, talks have been held with potential investors. These talks have not yet been successful. Against this background, bankruptcy proceedings had to be applied for.

Spar expresses interest

The Spar retail group has a fundamental interest in the property. "We tried very hard to acquire the Hedy Lamarr - the Leiner on Mariahilfer Strasse at the time - even before it was sold to René Benko, but we didn't get the chance," said Spar CEO Hans Reisch in an interview. "That would still be an asset we would be interested in. But nothing is concrete."

According to the company register ("WirtschaftsCompass"), the insolvent "Mariahilfer Strasse 10-18 Immobilien GmbH" is owned 50 percent each by Signa Prime Capital Invest GmbH and Skyred Holding 9, based in Luxembourg. Signa Prime Capital Invest is a subsidiary of the insolvent Signa Prime Selection AG and Skyred Holding 9 is an indirect subsidiary of the Thai Central Group.

The KaDeWe Group, which also belongs to the Signa and Central Group, would have been the planned operator of the Lamarr. When asked by APA, KaDeWe did not comment on the department store plans in Vienna for the time being. Signa and Central Group also own the Swiss department store chain Globus.

©Keystone/SDA

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