September 12, 2019 / 2:17 PM / a year ago

Austrian investor Benko builds $1.1 billion acquisition fund

VIENNA (Reuters) - Rene Benko’s Signa Holding has raised 700 million euros in fresh funds from existing investors and is planning a 500 million euro capital increase to give it liquidity reserves of more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for future acquisitions.

Among the assets in the holding company of Austrian investor Benko, who made a name for himself buying property, are half of New York’s Chrysler Building, the Park Hyatt Hotel in Vienna and Alte Akademie in Munich.

“The proceeds from the capital increases will be used for future acquisitions and bolstering Signa Group’s liquidity reserves,” the group said on Thursday.

Media-shy investor Benko has diversified into retail in the past few years, buying South African retailer Steinhoff’s (SNHJ.J) Austrian unit as well as German department stores Kaufhof and Karstadt, where restructuring is ongoing.

Last year, he moved into media by buying a stake in Austria’s influential tabloid Kronen Zeitung and teamed up with Japanese retail giant Aeon Co (8267.T) and top Thai retailer Central Group to expand the online sports retail business in Asia before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Signa Holding’s subsidiary Signa Prime Selection AG will carry out the 500 million euro capital increase, which is already fully subscribed, on Sept. 17, it said.

Key strategic shareholders in Signa Prime include Germany’s RAG Stiftung, insurance companies R+V and the Peugeot family’s investment vehicle FFP Group, according to the statement.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Alexander Smith

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