Goldman Sachs to make bid for Karstadt

American investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to make a bid for the insolvent Karstadt department store group, with a view to keeping the chain operating.

Goldman Sachs to make bid for Karstadt
Photo: DPA

Goldman Sachs is majority shareholder of the Highstreet property consortium, reported the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper at the weekend.

Highstreet owns the properties in which 86 of the 120 Karstadt stores are housed, but has not until now shown interest in running the shops themselves.

But Bild am Sonntag said Highstreet would make an offer to Karstadt insolvency administrator Klaus Hubert Görg this week – just days ahead of the Friday deadline for bids.

Highstreet would reportedly be the favourite bidder, and has already held secret talks with the Verdi trade union which represents shop-workers.

There would be no extensive job cuts should the deal come off, the paper reports, although the working week would be extended from 37.5 to 39.5 hours with no extra pay.

The giant Metro group, which owns Media Markt, Saturn and Galeria Kaufhof, is still in the running to buy out Karstadt, with CEO Eckhard Cordes recently writing to Görg to signal his continued interest.

The Metro concept would not guarantee to keep all the Karstadt shops running, rather incorporating them into its current department store chain.

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German Amazon workers strike on ‘Black Friday’

Amazon workers in Germany started a three-day strike Thursday timed to disrupt the online retailer's "Black Friday" sales bonanza.

German Amazon workers strike on 'Black Friday'
Signs for the Amazon strike in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

The strike, called by the powerful Verdi union, is set to last until Saturday and marks the latest escalation in a years-long battle with Amazon for better pay and working conditions.

“We estimate that around 2,500 people went on strike today, a higher number than in similar actions in the past and given the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic, it's a big success,” a Verdi spokesman told AFP.

To limit the risk of Covid-19 infections, the union said it was not staging any rallies during the strike.

Amazon in a statement said the walkouts were not affecting customer deliveries since “the majority of employees are working as normal”.

The stoppage affected Amazon distribution facilities in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Augsburg, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz.

Verdi has long wanted Amazon to sign on to regional wage agreements covering retail and e-commerce, and has organised numerous walkouts in recent years.

It also wants Amazon to improve health and safety at work, accusing the retail giant of not doing enough to protect staff from the coronavirus at some of its German sites.

Amazon defended its policies, saying it offered “excellent” wages, benefits and career opportunities in a “modern, safe” work environment.

The company employs more than 16,000 people in Germany and has taken on an additional 10,000 seasonal employees to cope with a boom in online shopping triggered by the pandemic.