Has the long-running conflict between MediaMarktSaturn and the Kellerhals family finally been resolved? The co-founder may be tempted to exchange his remaining MediaMarkt shares for an interest in parent group Ceconomy.
Struggle since 1988
It seems as if there may be a breakthrough in the dispute between (the descendants of) Erich Kellerhals, the co-founder of electronics chain MediaMarkt, and its current management. The Kellerhals family could be willing to leave their share in MediaMarktSaturn and instead receive 25 % of the shares in the parent company, Ceconomy. In addition to that, the family will also receive a cash payment.
Ever since the takeover of the chain in 1988, by what would later become the Metro group, there have been regular clashes between the new management and founders Kellerhals and Stiefel, as they had veto rights and a say in acquisitions. That proved problematic as they proved anything but willing to take the reins when it came to their brainchild.
Explaining how MediaMarktSaturn works
"Cordes is already the fifth Metro boss to whom we are trying to explain how the MediaMarktSaturn model works", Kellerhals commented in 2011, in respect of his quarrel with the then CEO. "But chairmen of the board come and go, and we have survived them all so far." Later, it even came down to a lawsuit, as part of which Cordes weakened the shareholder's veto rights.
Nevertheless, Kellerhals, who had a 22% stake in the company, continued to relentlessly apply pressure: he later threatened to buy back the chain and was also at the heart of the split between the electronics branch (Ceconomy) and the company's food activities (Metro).
Since his death in 2017, the heirs - at the instigation of Kellerhals himself - tried to seek a solution. Today, CEO Jörn Werner confirms that he has held constructive talks with the family. Although the content of the negotiations have not been disclosed, Reuters has been informed that a number of shares have been exchanged. In total, the deal is said to be worth a billion euros.