Home » Billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne rejected René Benko so brutally

Billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne rejected René Benko so brutally

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Billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne rejected René Benko so brutally

Klaus-Michael Kühne (left) and René Benko. Picture Alliance/Collage: Business Insider

Klaus-Michael Kühne, one of the most important investors in René Benko’s Signa empire, exited in December 2022.

According to the book “Inside Signa,” a meeting between Kühne and Benko ended abruptly when Kühne described the trust as broken.

Signa Holding, one of the largest real estate empires in the world, went spectacularly bankrupt in 2023.

He was one of the most important investors in René Benko’s Signa empire: Klaus-Michael Kühne, multi-billionaire and, according to estimates, currently the richest German. But in December 2022, the Hamburg native left the real estate empire.

Surprising for Benko is how email histories from the book “Inside Signa – The rise and fall of René Benko“ (published by Edition A) show. First reported the “Bild” about the excerpt of the chapter.

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Agree and show external content Klaus-Michael Kühne’s family also has a dark past.

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René Benko worked his way up from a humble background

René Benko was one of Europe’s most dazzling billionaires until 2023. The Austrian worked his way up from a humble background and built what is now one of the largest real estate empires in the world: Signa Holding. It included luxury properties in top locations, such as Hamburg’s Elbtower, or retail companies such as Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. Last year the company went spectacularly bankrupt.

One person who pulled the trigger even before the bankruptcy was Klaus-Michael Kühne. According to the book, on December 1, 2022, he invited Benko to his own luxury hotel, The Fontaney, five stars, right on the Hamburg Alster, for the break-up conversation. However, the meeting shouldn’t last long. “Just a few minutes after the conversation began, Kühne suddenly stands up from the set table. He leaves Benko cold as ice,” the book says.

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Agree and show external content See here how the multi-billionaire’s downfall came about

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This is what it says in the email from Kühne to René Benko

Afterwards, Benko tried to save what apparently could no longer be saved. “Dear Mr. Kühne, frankly I am at a loss! I came to Hamburg today especially to meet with you and Mr. Gernandt (sat for Kühne on the Signa Holding supervisory board, editor’s note) “To continue the conversation from October and to exchange ideas and advice with you as the second largest shareholder,” Benko wrote in the email, from which “Bild” quotes. “I would like the opportunity to talk to you in person, even if it’s just an hour after your lunch,” he added. Kühne did not respond.

So Benko sent a second email a short time later. “A short personal discussion with you would be very important to me – I’m still with you in the hotel. 10 minutes is enough,” he wrote.

“The trust is destroyed”

This time the Austrian received an email. However, not as he had imagined. “Dear Mr. Benko,” writes the 80-year-old. “I’m sorry – the trust has been destroyed and I have asked Mr. Gernandt to inform you of my wish to have our shareholding in Signa Prime Selection AG reversed. This must be formally decided by the board of directors of Kühne Holding AG, which I hereby inform of my wish and would like to ask for its implementation at short notice.”

Kühne’s departure from Signa Holding could have been the beginning of the end.

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