February 14, 2018 / 9:38 AM / a year ago

Ceconomy seeks deal with heirs of Media Markt founder

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Germany’s Ceconomy (CECG.DE), Europe’s biggest consumer electronics group, is making a big push to try to resolve a long-running dispute with a major shareholder, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Analysts have speculated that settling the dispute could allow Ceconomy to pursue a more aggressive acquisition strategy, with the European consumer electronics market seen as ripe for a shake-out due to competition from online players like Amazon.

Ceconomy’s shares, which jumped in December after the death of German billionaire Erich Kellerhals on hopes that his heirs would be able to reach an agreement, were up 1.25 percent at 1044 GMT.

Ceconomy, which split off from retail conglomerate Metro (B4B.DE) in part to allow it to become more active in acquisitions, last year took a 24 percent stake in French rival Fnac Darty (FNAC.PA).

However, Kellerhals had said Ceconomy could not increase its stake in Fnac Darty above 25 percent due to past agreements between Metro and his Convergenta holding company.

Speaking at the annual general meeting, CEO Pieter Haas said it was the interest of both parties to try to find a solution with Convergenta, the holding company of Kellerhals, co-founder of Ceconomy’s Media Markt chain of electronics stores.

Kellerhals held a stake of just over 21 percent in Media-Saturn, and had been at odds with Ceconomy over the management of the business, most notably its move into the online market as well as its split last year from retail conglomerate Metro.

(This version of the story adds first name of Kellerhals at first reference.)

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Keith Weir

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