Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com is said to be interested in Ceconomy, the parent company of Saturn and Media Markt. A deal could significantly shake up the European electronics market.
In talks for months
JD.com has been in talks with several shareholders, including the Haniel, Beisheim and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families since this summer, Manager Magazin reports. If successful, the Chinese giant would take a major stake in the capital of German electronics group Ceconomy.
The Haniel family, which holds a 16.7 % stake in Ceconomy, is said to be the easiest entry ticket into the company as it has let its stake decline for years. In 2019, it also allowed itself to be bought out from former sister company Metro. Although JD is also negotiating with other shareholders, according to Manager Magazin, no one would comment. Only Freenet, which accounts for about 6.7 % of shares, responds that JD.com has not yet approached them.
Two power fronts
The descendants of the Haniel, Beisheim and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck business dynasties together own about a third of Ceconomy. If a shareholder were to reach the 30 % threshold, they have to make a mandatory bid for all outstanding shares.
Another powerhouse within Ceconomy includes the descendants of Media Markt founder Erich Kellerhals, who exchanged their stake in MediaMarkt-Saturn for a nearly 30 % stake in the parent holding company after his death. They can be seen as quite stubborn and/or protective, so there is no guarantee that it will come to a transaction at all.
If a deal does follow, it would hit European electronics retail like a bomb. JD.com could flood the European market via Media Markt and Saturn (cheaply) with Chinese products, which would also fit well with the chains’ low-price image. JD.com has also been seeking entry into Europe for a long time.