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German retail giant Metro plans sale of Real supermarket chain

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BERLIN, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — Metro is looking for investors to take over the entirety of its German supermarket chain subsidiary Real, the Duesseldorf-based retail giant announced on Friday.

Speaking to press during a telephone conference, Metro chief executive officer (CEO) Olaf Koch said that he envisioned Real’s future as a single commercial unit under new ownership. Koch hereby denied rumors of a looming break-up of the chain with 34,000 employees which has struggled with falling sales.

The Metro CEO insisted that although major German competitors were unlikely to be granted approval for a takeover of Real by local antitrust regulators, the chain was still attractive for a range of investors with its network of 282 markets, a fast-growing online grocery shopping division and a broad real estate portfolio.

“We know that there is interest (from buyers) in (acquiring) Real,” Koch said, noting that the group had already received several enquiries about its availability in the past. At the same time, he emphasized that the decision to put Metro up for sale was unrelated to a significant recent acquisition of Metro shares by Czech-Slovak EP Global Commerce.

Koch has repeatedly heard criticism from Metro investors for the poor performance of the stock. The CEO has said that he intends to focus the retail group more on wholesale activities after having already sold the Real’s Eastern European network of supermarkets to French Auchan back in 2012.

Metro was founded in 1963 as one of the world’s first “cash and carry” wholesale market chains and currently employs around 150,000 workers globally. The group achieved gross revenue of 37.1 billion euros in the 2016/17 fiscal year.

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