Signa in Upheaval: Rene Benko's Retreat and the Future of the Real Estate Giant

PeopleEntrepreneurs ♦ Published: November 9, 2023; 12:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

Significant changes have now taken place at the real estate and retail group Signa. Company founder Rene Benko is stepping down and handing over the reins to restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz. This step follows pressure from investors and is intended to initiate a comprehensive restructuring of the group. Benko's removal from power was already apparent in the industry, but it has now been officially announced that Geiwitz will take over as Chairman of the Shareholders' Committee and the Advisory Board. However, the circumstances surrounding Benko's voting rights remain uncertain.

The power struggle in the Signa Group, which is struggling with difficulties, has been decided. One of the group's most prominent properties is the Kaufhaus des Westens department store in Berlin. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons; Jochen Teufel, CC BY-SA 3.0 (

Benko sees the takeover by Geiwitz as "the best solution" for the company and emphasizes the goal of restoring trust, according to ORF. Signa's real estate portfolio is still considered unique, and the Benko family private foundation remains the largest shareholder.

The Signa Group, particularly known for its real estate division, is under pressure, as reported by High devaluations have led to losses, and the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the challenges posed by rising construction and energy costs and interest rates. Last year, Signa Prime Selection recorded a devaluation of 1.17 billion euros due to high-interest rates.

Arndt Geiwitz, known for the restructuring of the Schlecker drugstores, is now the new head of Signa and is to undertake a thorough review of all business areas and develop a holistic concept for the group. Geiwitz emphasizes the need for calm and order in the process and calls on all those involved to cooperate.

Benko's withdrawal comes at a time when several of the company's divisions have run into difficulties. The group has grown in recent years thanks to Benko and the commitment of financially strong investors and also includes Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, which has already been through two insolvency proceedings.

There have recently been reports about the advisory board of Signa Holding, whose prominent members include former political leaders, in which Benko made statements under an obligation to tell the truth. He emphasized the advisory function of the advisory board and his own position as chairman, which he assumed as founder of the company.

The current situation surrounding Signa raises questions about the future of the company: will Geiwitz succeed in stabilizing the company and what does this mean for ongoing projects and the banks and taxpayers involved? Benko's empire is at a turning point where decisive decisions need to be made for its future.