The largest shareholder in Metro Group has thrown its weight behind the German retailer’s CEO Dr Eckhard Cordes, days after saying it did not want him to remain at the business beyond his current contract.

German industrial holding Haniel which owns 34% of Metro, had told Dr Cordes that it did not want him to stay at the retailer after his contract expires next year.

However, in a surprise change, just-food understands Haniel has now given Dr Cordes its backing to extend his contract which is due to end next October. 

Yesterday, a second key shareholder in Metro reportedly indicated its support for Dr Cordes. According to German weekly Focus, the Schmidt-Ruthenbeck family, which holds 16% of Metro, said it wanted the Metro chief to renew his contract.

A source told just-food that discussions were held last weekend between Haniel and Dr Jürgen Kluge, CEO of Haniel and the chairman of the Metro supervisory board.

“Haniel decided to support an extension of the contract of Mr Cordes to get a little bit more calmness in the discussions concerning Metro and not to focus on just one person, so that Metro can work on strategic changes,” the source said.

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The Metro supervisory board is expected to meet in November to discuss the issue, the source added.