Haniel said it remains the largest single shareholder in Metro Group

Haniel said it remains the largest single shareholder in Metro Group

Franz Haniel & Cie has said it regards the remaining holding it has in Metro Group as an "anchor investment", suggesting it is unlikely to reduce the shareholding further.

Germany investment company this morning (6 February) said it had generated proceeds of EUR300m (US406.2m) from the completed reduction of its shareholding from 34.24% to 30.01%.

The completed disposal of 13.7m shares is a further "important" step towards reducing its debt, the company said. The investor also cut its stake in drug wholesaler Celesio in November to reduce debt. Haniel said at the time it would sell down stakes in Metro and Celesio to cut its debt to below EUR2bn.

A spokesperson for Haniel told just-food today that with a shareholding of 30.01%, it remains the largest single shareholder and continues to regard the holding as an "anchor investment of our company".

"Thus this shareholding allows us the highest degree of flexibility. We will continue to positively accompany and support the strategic development of Metro AG," the spokesperson said, adding that he would not respond in detail about the company's net debt position.

"We anticipate that we can implement the further parts of the package of measures (non-strategic), that has already been identified, relatively quickly," he said.

"By streamlining the stakes in Celesio and Metro, we generated a total of around EUR400m within a very short period. This is quite a success in reducing net financial debt at holding level. We are confident of also pushing through the other measures planned," he added, not going into detail on what those measure comprise.

"In relation to the disposal of non-strategic assets, we have already taken action and these steps can be realised within a very short space of time. It is not so much a matter of longer-term sales processes here, so the remaining months offer us ample scope for action. It's a matter of smaller investments, which are not to be described in more detail here."