Last updated: 01.12.2023, 00:40
By: Mark Stoffers
The insolvency of Signa also has an impact on René Benko's private assets. The real estate investor's assets have probably more than halved.
Vienna – The insolvency of René Benko's Signa Holding apparently also casts its shadow over the assets of the Austrian investor. While the insolvency administrator was the first to speak out on Thursday (30 November), investors apparently want to file criminal charges after the Signa bankruptcy. The lawyer Christof Stapf explained that he would only be able to comment on Signa Holding, which is in debt with five billion euros, in a few weeks.
René Benko's private fortune shrinks drastically: Signa founder is no longer worth even half
Only at the reporting meeting on December 19 "will it be possible to make an assessment of how realistic the submitted financial plan is and whether a restructuring plan can be fulfilled," Stapf said in a statement to the Austrian news agency APA. Notwithstanding this, the situation at Signa had a considerable impact on René Benko's assets even before the insolvency proceedings were filed.
So far, René Benko and his wife Nathalie have always been welcome on red carpets at the Hahnenkamm Race in Kitzbühel in January. Now the investor's assets probably had to take a bitter blow. © Wolfgang Grebien/GEPA pictures/Imago
According to an estimate by Forbes, René Benko's private fortune had shrunk by more than half within a few months. While the U.S. news magazine estimated the Signa founder's fortune at around 2023.5 billion euros in the summer of 5, it was "only" a little over 2.5 billion euros in November. The 46-year-old investor from Tyrol thus slipped significantly in the global ranking – from 425th to 1,105th place to be precise. Nevertheless, according to one expert, Benko "will probably remain a billionaire" even after the Signa crisis.
René Benko's fortune is based on Signa shares – paintings by Picasso and Basquiat are for sale
In Forbes' calculations of René Benko's net worth, it is already notorious how much the shares held by the respective billionaires are worth. Benko's fortune is therefore mainly based on the investor's stake in Signa. According to estimates by Wirtschafts-Compass, the Benko Family Private Foundation directly and indirectly holds around 66 percent of Signa Holding GmbH. As a result of the real estate group's predicament, which became increasingly obvious in the autumn, the value of Benko's Signa stake also fell.
It is not publicly known how much Benko's private fortune, who is said to have negotiated with a Saudi sovereign wealth fund in the course of a Signa rescue, is not publicly known. According to media reports, he also privately owns Signa properties, such as the luxury resort "Eden Reserve" on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy. In addition, it came to light last week that paintings by Picasso and Basquiat, which are owned by René Benko, are apparently for sale. According to reports by Spiegel and News, the works come from the art collection of Benko's "Laura Private Foundation", which apparently includes an unspecified work by Andy Wahrhol and is "estimated at more than 30 million euros".
René Benko wants to sell yacht: Signa founder also pledges million-dollar villa
But that's not all. Apparently, Benko is taking further measures so that his company construct does not finally collapse. After all, there was already an advertisement on the Internet on Monday for his 62-meter-long yacht called "Roma". With a whopping 39.9 million euros, a proud sales price for the luxury yacht was called.
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In addition, Benko is said to have pledged his luxury villa and the noble estate in Igls near Innsbruck to the Liechtensteiner Landesbank. According to a report in the Tyrolean daily newspaper, this is said to have happened as early as July and Benko has probably received a loan of 15 million euros. The real estate investor lives in the million-dollar property with his family. However, it is still unclear whether the seizure took place in connection with the imminent Signa difficulties.
Benko's Signa rescue a "hussar ride": Sportscheck and Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof affected in Germany
Signa is nothing less than the largest insolvency in Austrian economic history. Creditor advocates see the company on the verge of a "hussar ride", as Creditreform Managing Director Gerhard Weinhofer attests. Austria's National Bank (OeNB) has so far identified "no direct risk to financial market stability" from the default of loans from Signa for domestic banks, as 60 percent of the loans are secured.
For companies in Germany, however, René Benko's insolvency filing for Signa Holding has a direct impact. While the future of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has not yet been clarified, but "a new owner would probably be the best solution", the sporting goods retailer SportScheck, which belongs to the Signa Holding, has also had to file for insolvency. Developments that are unlikely to be conducive to René Benko's fortune in the future.