Jul 30, 2009
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Arcandor's banks eye Thomas Cook stake sale

Jul 30, 2009

LONDON/FRANKFURT, July 30 (Reuters) - The leading banks of insolvent German retailer and tourism group Arcandor (AROG.DE) are eyeing a sale of Arcandor's stake in travel company Thomas Cook (TCG.L), of which they hold 43.9 percent as collateral. Arcandor filed for insolvency in June after its request for state help failed. It has been Chief Executive Karl-Gerhard Eick's mantra to find a solution for the group as a whole.

Photo: dpa

But the departure earlier this month of Horst Piepenburg, who had been hired as a restructuring specialist by Arcandor, sparked speculation as to whether such a solution was still feasible.

Arcandor's insolvency administrator has now appointed two banks to assess separate restructuring solutions for department store unit Karstadt and its mail-order business Primondo. These would not necessarily imply a break-up of the group.

But now the company's banks are making their own plans.

"It is currently envisaged by the mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) that the most likely outcome would involve a market placing (Thomas Cook), off market sales or some combination of the two," Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) and BayernLB said in a statement on Thursday 30 July.

"No course of action has been determined at this stage."

Arcandor holds about 53 percent in Thomas Cook -- Europe's second largest travel company. It has secured a 1.5-billion-euro ($2.12 billion) loan with the 43.9 percent stake in Thomas Cook, while further 8 percent are used to back a convertible bond.

(Reporting by Eva Kuehnen in Frankfurt and Matthew Scuffham in London)

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