Metro sees Arcandor as part of new listed group

The leading German retailer, Metro, wants to snap up distressed rival Arcandor and possibly list a new group on the stock exchange, Metro boss Eckhard Cordes said on Wednesday.

"We have a short and medium-term objective to create a large new ensemble and I even think ... it might be possible to list such a company on the market," Cordes told ZDF television.

The private investment bank Merck Finck it would "regard a combination as positive," but maintained its outlook for Metro stock on hold.

Arcandor filed for insolvency on Tuesday after failing to obtain state aid under a programme for companies hit by the global economic downturn because it is accused of bad management before the crisis erupted.

It was one of the biggest non-financial failures in Europe since the global financial and economic crisis erupted nearly two years ago.

About 43,000 jobs are at risk, though they do not include staff at the British travel group Thomas Cook, in which Arcandor holds a majority stake of 53 percent.

In the event of a merger, Metro would regroup its Kaufhof chain with rival Karstadt, owned by Arcandor, and retain about 160 of the combined 200 department stores, Cordes said.

"The chief executive spoke not only of a German department store group, but even of a European one," Merck Finck noted.

Following a two-year restructuring, Metro would like to sell most of the combined operation, a spokesman was quoted by the business daily Handelsblatt as saying.

If that does not take place via a public listing of shares, Metro might look for a private investor.

Handelsblatt said Italian retailer Maurizio Borletti, backed by a financial group, could be interested.

"We are currently participating in discussions," Borletti told the newspaper, without providing details.

He owns the Italian chain Rinascente and also holds a minority stake in the French retailer Printemps.

A black panther cub is seen in the grass at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin. AP Photo/Maya Hitij