1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Austrian property tycoon Rene Benko files for insolvency

March 7, 2024

Rene Benko, an Austrian property tycoon and one of the country's richest men, has filed for insolvency, a court has confirmed. Many of Benko's businesses, including some in Germany, have also been in financial trouble.

Austrian investor Rene Benko files for insolvency
Austrian investor Rene Benko files for insolvencyImage: Manfred NOGER/ATP photo agency/picture alliance

Austrian investor Rene Benko, founder of the Signa property and retail group and one of Austria's richest men, has filed for insolvency, a spokesperson for the Innsbruck regional court confirmed on Thursday.

The move comes after the Austrian state prosecutor filed an insolvency petition against the 46-year-old at the end of January, accusing Benko of failing to pay promised fees linked to the insolvency of Signa Group's holding company.

The court spokesperson emphasized that this was not an application for private insolvency, but rather insolvency as a business owner.

Nevertheless, as Austrian daily Der Standard reports, Benko is personally liable with his own private wealth, estimated in 2023 to be around €5.5 billion (roughly $6 billion).

Branching out into Germany, Italy

Benko's convoluted corporate empire includes several projects in neighboring Germany, including the Elbtower project in Hamburg, luxury department store KaDeWe in Berlin and the department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, all of which recently declared insolvency.

Benko's Signa Holding filed for bankruptcy in November 2013 citing increased building costs, rising interest rates and various self-made issues.

In December, Forbes removed him from its international billionaires list in light of Signa's growing problems.

Benko started his business career as a teenager converting attics in his home city of Innsbruck. A fairytale rise saw him become a property tycoon with skyscrapers, shopping malls and other buildings in prime locations.

mf/msh (Reuters, dpa)