March 31, 2017 / 1:08 PM / 5 months ago

German court sets three month deadline for Metro breakup decision

Shopping carts of Germany's biggest retailer Metro AG are lined up at a Metro cash and carry market in the western German city of Sankt Augustin near Bonn in this May 5, 2010 file photo.Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A German higher regional court in Duesseldorf said on Friday it would decide within three months whether or not to allow retailer Metro MEOG.DE to continue with a planned breakup while lawsuits by shareholders against it are still pending.

Metro shareholders voted overwhelmingly last month to back a plan to split off the group's wholesale and hypermarket food business from Media-Saturn, Europe's biggest consumer electronics group, this summer.

However, four lawsuits by shareholders have been brought against it, among others from Erich Kellerhals, the founder of Media-Saturn who still owns a stake of 22 percent in the business.

Metro, a sprawling conglomerate with 2,000 stores in 29 countries, has been restructuring in recent years to focus on cash-and-carry and consumer electronics, selling its Kaufhof department stores and Real supermarkets in eastern Europe.

It hopes the split will help the independent companies pursue more acquisitions and trigger a revaluation of the stock as Metro currently trades at a discount to pure wholesale retailers such as Sysco (SYY.N) and Britain's Booker (BOK.L).

Separately, Metro said that Chief Executive Olaf Koch has been appointed to head the new food group until March 2022. The other board members, including Chief Financial Officer Christian Baier, have been mandated for a term ending Sept. 30, 2020.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Georgina Prodhan

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