Russian consortium joins race for Karstadt

A fourth bidder has joined the race for Germany's insolvent high-street department store chain Karstadt. A Russian consortium led by top businessman Artur Pachomov has shown interest.

Russian consortium joins race for Karstadt
Photo: DPA

Pachomov’s consortium will be competing against the property developer Highstreet, as well the investment companies Triton and Berggruen.

According to news magazine Der Spiegel, Pachomov made an eight-figure bid for a 100 percent stake in Karstadt on Friday.

The Russian consortium offered to invest money into the company to capitalize on this year’s Christmas market, and its official bid also promises “an annual investment of €80 million, beginning in 2011, to secure the long-term future of Karstadt.”

According to the bid, the strategic aim of the investment is to internationalize the business and to expand Karstadt to attractive locations outside Germany. The consortium claims to have already lined up an appropriate building in St. Petersburg.

The consortium also says it numbers some former Karstadt managers among its advisors, including former board chairman Helmut Merkel.

Karstadt, which has 120 stores and around 25,000 employees in Germany, became insolvent in the summer of 2009 when its parent company, retail and tourism giant Arcandor, went bust. Arcandor has already sold off its mail order subsidiary Quelle.

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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.