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The SIGNA Group

At a glance

The SIGNA Group is a privately managed European investment and industrial holding company active in the real estate, retail and media business sectors. Since its foundation in 1999, SIGNA has succeeded in developing into a company of truly European scale and format. Today, SIGNA is one of Europe’s most important real estate investors and operates a number of reputable business enterprises.

SIGNA Real Estate employs about 550 people at ten locations in Austria, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The Gross Asset Value of the real estate group amounts to 21 billion euros, and the development volume amounts to twelve billion euros. SIGNA Real Estate is divided into five independent divisions:

SIGNA Prime Selection owns a portfolio of exclusive real estate properties in prime inner-city locations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The vast majority of these extraordinary real estate objects will remain in the hands of SIGNA Prime in the long term. The company continues to supplement its real estate investments with acquisitions and projects in top locations with significant value appreciation potential on an ongoing basis.
SIGNA Development Selection invests in development projects in major urban centres, primarily in the German-speaking region and Italy. These include office blocks and towers, residential complexes, retail spaces and hotels. The company pursues a “buy – develop – sell” strategy. In 2017, SIGNA Development Selection took over the Viennese property developer BAI Bauträger Austria Immobilien GmbH.

With a focus on New York City and other prime inner-city locations and a mixture of different utilisation types focused on sustainability, SIGNA US Selection will acquire trophy assets with value enhancement potential in unique locations. The long-term buy-and-hold strategy will result in a core portfolio similar to SIGNA Prime Selection.

SIGNA Innovations aims to play a decisive role in the digitalisation of the real estate market. The company invests in new, innovative ideas, platforms and business models relating to real estate and takes advantage of tech solutions as well as utilisation and service models that not only offer interesting returns, but also make SIGNA an innovation leader.

SIGNA Luxury Hotels sets the highest standards in the conception, development and marketing of unique destinations in Central Europe’s most beautiful locations and operates impressive luxury hotels and resorts, with a portfolio that includes Chalet N in Lech am Arlberg, the Park Hyatt Vienna luxury hotel, the Villa Eden Gardone luxury resort on Lake Garda as well as the exclusive Hotel Bauer Palazzo in the heart of Venice.

Established under the overall corporate umbrella of SIGNA Retail are a number of business enterprises that operate alongside one another, but independently. Approx. 35,000 employees at around 300 locations in prime inner-city locations and over 100 web shops in 20 countries generate an annual turnover of around 7 billion euros. The KaDeWe Group is a part of SIGNA Premium and is the leading premium and luxury department store group in the brick-and-mortar sector in Germany and Europe with three luxury department stores, the KaDeWe, the Oberpollinger and the Alsterhaus. In addition, the traditional Swiss department store chain GLOBUS has been a part of the Group since the spring of 2020. In 2017, the digital fashion mall for premium and luxury fashion MYBESTBRANDS was also acquired.

As the leading sports e-commerce platform in the bike, tennis, outdoor, team sports and athleisure categories, SIGNA Sports United currently operates around 80 web shops in 17 countries. With around four million active customers and over 200 million website visitors per year, the company is the clear number one for Europe’s sports fans.

GALERIA Karstadt Kaufhof is Germany’s leading department store chain and number two in all of Europe. The company has over 243 locations in prime inner-city locations across Europe with a total of 32,000 employees, and it attracts over 20 million customers. The Group is developing into a “marketplace of the future” that combines online and offline distribution channels.

The kika/Leiner furniture store chain was acquired in June 2018 and is an integral part of SIGNA Home & Lifestyle. With its 42 stores and about 4,300 employees, this traditional company is seen as one of the major players in the industry. For SIGNA Retail, the acquisition of kika/Leiner marks its initial entry into Austria’s brick-and-mortar retail sector.

SIGNA Food & Restaurants is one of the major quick-service platforms in the German market. Its portfolio includes a joint venture with EATALY. The Group positions itself as an innovative and swift service provider. Based on its know-how, the company will continue to grow through acquisitions and master franchise agreements/joint ventures.

SignaGroup Executive Board

SIGNA GROUP EXECUTIVE BOARD In 2013, the Group Executive Board (EB) of the SIGNA Group was established to reflect the rapid growth and diversity of the SIGNA Group. The Chairman of the SIGNA Group Executive Board – Dieter Berninghaus – as well as four members of the boards of individual business units provide advice and support in their roles as members of the Executive Board, particularly with regard to the Group’s strategic development across all business areas. The responsibility for the development and implementation of the strategy and operating business remains with the Executive Boards and Managing Directors of the individual divisions and Group companies.

Wolfram Keil

Wolfram Keil

Wolfram Keil has been Managing Director of SIGNA Retail GmbH since 2014. He previously worked as CFO of SIGNA Recap Funds. He worked for Cerberus Germany and Terra Firma Capital Partners in London, where he gained extensive experience in the private equity and real estate business. After completing his university studies, Wolfram Keil began his professional career in the financial sector at Procter & Gamble. Since 2013, he has been a member of the SIGNA Group Executive Board as Group CFO.

Christoph Stadlhuber

Christoph Stadlhuber

Christoph Stadlhuber, Austria CEO SIGNA Real Estate, started working with SIGNA in 2011 and is responsible for all real estate activities in Austria. Mr Stadlhuber is CEO of SIGNA Prime Selection AG, CEO of SIGNA Development Selection AG and Managing Director of SIGNA Holding GmbH. He completed his studies in Spatial Development and Planning at the Vienna University of Technology. Among other things, he was Chef de Cabinet of the Austrian Federal Minister of Economics and Labour, Dr. Martin Bartenstein. As Managing Director of Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H. from 2003 to 2011, he can look back on many years of significant real estate experience.

Timo Herzberg

Timo Herzberg

Timo Herzberg, CEO Germany of SIGNA Real Estate, has been a member of the SIGNA Group Executive Board since December of 2018. Timo Herzberg has been working for SIGNA since the beginning of 2017. He is responsible for and manages all real estate activities in Germany. He can look back on more than 20 years of experience in real estate investment and development business with national and international, private and institutional real estate investors. In 2006, he founded the Signature Capital Group Germany, which he led as Director as well as Managing Director.

Dr. Dieter Berninghaus

Dr. Dieter Berninghaus

As of September 2016, Dr. Dieter Berninghaus took over as Chairman of the SIGNA Group Executive Board and Chairman of SIGNA Retail. Prior to this, from the beginning of 2008 to August of 2016, Mr. Berninghaus was a Member of the General Management as well as CEO at the Swiss Migros Group. This is where, in his position as a Member and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Berninghaus was responsible for the entire retail business and managed 15 companies of the Swiss retail giant. Mr Berninghaus also worked for Denner AG/Rast Holding AG (2004–2008) as a Member of the Board of Directors and subsequently as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and also as the CEO and Spokesperson of the Management Board of REWE Group (1999–2004). At Metro AG (1991–1999), Mr Berninghaus was responsible – most recently as Director – for the management of the Internationalisation and Strategic Corporate Development Group Division.

Michael Cramer

Michael Cramer

Michael Cramer has been a member of the SIGNA Group Executive Board since October of 2020 and is responsible for SIGNA’s strategic communications both internally and externally as well as the company’s strategic marketing. He has been one of the most prominent figures in the communications industry for many years. As a journalist, he was a Middle East correspondent, programme director and editor in chief at various TV stations at quite a young age. His company, altcramer gmbh, has been consulting a virtual “Who’s Who” of the German business and top political arenas for a decade. His team has won 180 international awards for its campaigns to date.

Signa Group Advisory Board

A significant factor in the success and growth of the company was the appointment of a strategic Advisory Board of eminent figures from the banking, political and business arenas. The Advisory Board is not a statutory body in the conventional sense, but rather a body whose task it is to advance the strategy and further development as well as new business activities of the company. The Advisory Board, first established in 2005, initially consisted of Karl Samstag, Rainer de Backere and Peter Hasskamp.

Since then, this body has grown to 13 members and aside from Chairman René Benko includes Alfred Gusenbauer, Prof. Roland Berger, Walid Chammah, Günter Koller, Susanne Riess, Karl Stoss, Karl Sevelda, Torsten Toeller and Ernst Tanner.

Of course the three founding members are still on board. What they all have in common is strong ties to SIGNA and to the founder of the company as well as many years of experience and know-how in their respective areas of activity.

Dr. Karl Sevelda

Dr. Karl Sevelda

Dr. Karl Sevelda has over 40 years of experience in the banking sector. He worked at Creditanstalt-Bankverein for over 20 years before joining Raiffeisen Bankengruppe in 1998, where he was responsible for RZB’s corporate customer business until 2010. Between 2010 and 2013, he was Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), and from June 7, 2013, he was its Chairman until 2017. The merger of RBI with its parent company RZB was completed towards the end of Dr Sevelda’s term of office, resulting in structural improvements and increased transparency.

Torsten Toeller

Torsten Toeller

After a business trip to the US, Torsten Toeller developed the idea of a specialist pet food and accessories store for Germany. At the age of 24, he opened the first Fressnapf store in Erkelenz, followed by the first store in the franchise system in 1992. At this point, Fressnapf is the leader in the pet supplies market, with around 1,650 stores in twelve European countries, over 12,000 employees and revenues of over two billion euros. In 2012, Mr Toeller founded Devario Invest GmbH, a company that develops and finances real estate projects. In 2014, he established the GENUI private equity fund, which makes growth capital available for companies.

Rainer de Backere

Rainer de Backere

Until 2005, Rainer de Backere was a member of the Board of Management of Westfälische Provinzialversicherungen. Among other things, he was responsible for all investments of the insurance group, with a special focus on real estate investments. He holds a number of consulting mandates in the finance and investment sector and has a wide range of experience in the real estate industry (incl. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Frankonia Eurobau AG and Member of the Advisory Board of Quantum Immobilien AG).

Dr. Peter Hasskamp

Dr. Peter Hasskamp

After retiring as a long-standing member of the Board of Management of Bremer Landesbank in 2004, which he chaired for over 16 years, Peter Hasskamp holds a number of Supervisory Board and consulting mandates, including at Bremer Landesbank Stiftung and EGC Eurogroup Unternehmensberatung AG, Frankfurt.

Dr. Karl Stoss

Dr. Karl Stoss

Dr. Karl Stoss holds a Doctorate in Business Administration. At the beginning of his career, he was a partner at the MZSG – Management Zentrum St. Gallen – as well as a lecturer at the University of Innsbruck. In 1997, he became Deputy Chairman of the Board of Österreichische Postsparkasse AG, and in 2001, he joined the Board of Raiffeisen Zentralbank AG. In 2005, he became CEO of Generali Versicherung AG. From 2007 until the end of 2017, Karl Stoss was CEO of Casinos Austria AG, and he was elected President of the Austrian Olympic Committee in 2009.

Karl Samstag

Karl Samstag

Karl Samstag was a Member of the Board of Directors from 1991 to 2002, and from 1995 onward he was Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, which he chaired between 2003 and 2004. Even after his departure from the bank’s board, he remains close ties with it, and he was a Member of the Supervisory Board of Bank Austria UniCredit until 2018. Until December of 2019, Mr Samstag was a Member of the Board of Trustees of the AVZ-Stiftung. He currently holds another Supervisory Board mandate at VAMED AG, a company that is part of the listed German Fresenius Group.

Dr. Susanne Riess

Dr. Susanne Riess

Dr. Susanne Riess can look back on many years of political experience. She was sworn in as Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria in 2000. Following her departure from the political arena, Ms Riess has been CEO of the Austrian Wüstenrot Bausparkassen- und Versicherungsgruppe since 2004, and she also holds numerous Supervisory Board mandates, such as on the Board of Directors of Swiss IHAG Privatbank.

Günter Koller

Günter Koller

Günter Koller began working as an attorney at the commercial law firm BEITEN BURKHARDT MITTEL & Wegner in 1994, where he specialised in real estate and banking law. In 1997, he joined with several colleagues to found GSK, a law firm specialising in real estate, banking and finance law. He left the firm in mid-2001 and became Managing Director of Wilhelm von Finck Hauptverwaltung GmbH, Munich. The family office supports Wilhelm von Finck and two other wealthy clients with regard to all asset management matters except for financial services. Günter Koller is the Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Quantum Immobilien AG, Hamburg and Isarklinik AG, Munich, and he is a Member of the Supervisory Boards of Accumulata AG, GIEAG, Hammer AG, all in Munich, and 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG in Vienna. He is also a Member of the Advisory Board of Paramount REIT PGRE, New York.

Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger

Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger

Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger is regarded as the Grand Seigneur of the international consulting sector. In 1967, he founded Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, of which he is the Honorary Chairman to this day. He is a Member of several Supervisory and Advisory Boards. His Roland Berger Foundation awards the annual Roland Berger Human Dignity Award and sponsors talented children from socially disadvantaged families as they work towards studying at a university.

Walid A. Chammah

Walid A. Chammah

Walid Chammah was Chairman of the Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley International and a Member of the Management Board and the Operating Committees. Between September of 2007 and December of 2009, Mr. Chammah was Co-President of Morgan Stanley and was responsible for the institutional securities business until he resigned from this function in January of 2012. Since that time, he has held numerous consulting mandates in various international companies.

Ernst Tanner

Ernst Tanner

Ernst Tanner is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lindt & Sprüngli, where he turned the then-struggling takeover candidate into a global corporation. He was able to substantially increase turnover and multiply the market value of Lindt & Sprüngli by a factor of twenty. Previously, Ernst Tanner worked for Johnson & Johnson for over 20 years, most recently as Company Group Chairman with responsibility for the entire European consumer goods business. Ernst Tanner is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group and the German brewery Krombacher. He also served on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of Credit Suisse for over 15 years.

Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer

Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer

Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer was Austria’s Chancellor. After leaving the political arena, he accepted several selected Supervisory Board mandates, including Chairman of the Supervisory Board of STRABAG, one of Austria’s largest construction groups, as well as SIGNA Prime Selection AG and SIGNA Development Selection AG. Since the 2009 winter semester, he has also been a Visiting Professor at the US Ivy League Harvard University. Alfred Gusenbauer is regarded as an expert in the areas of foreign, security and economic policy. He has been awarded several prestigious national and international prizes.

René Benko

René Benko

René Benko is the founder of the SIGNA Group and Chairman of the Advisory Board of SIGNA Holding GmbH. Since the Group was founded in 1999, over 18 billion euros have been invested with extraordinary success in “Core +”, value-adding, opportunistic real estate projects, and a trading arm with annual sales of around 8.5 billion euros has been established.

SIGNA Group Compliance

SIGNA is one of the most important real estate investors in Europe and operates retail companies that are well-known in their own right. This success story since 2000 has been built in part on SIGNA’s reputation, which is based on business dealings in accordance with ethical and performance-related basic values. SIGNA has made a full commitment to the principles of a modern compliance structure which, along with adherence to all regulatory requirements, also entails observance of the internal and external requirements and consideration of basic ethical values.

For this purpose, SIGNA has put a compliance management system (CMS) in place containing clear rules on the types of behavior that are permitted and prohibited at SIGNA. In order to ensure quality assurance in this system, SIGNA’s real estate companies have aligned their entire CMS with the requirements and content of ISO 19600. Other SIGNA companies have made a voluntary commitment to comply with the CMS.

KPMG Austria GmbH examined the description of our CMS in accordance with IDW AsS 980 and completed this examination with a written report dated December 22, 2020.

Value Management

The values of integrity, responsibility, fairness, compliance and transparency are the yardstick by which SIGNA takes action. They form the basis of the company’s long-term success and are an indispensable compass in the way we deal with one another. With its Value Management System, SIGNA commits itself to acting with ethical integrity, adhering to internationally recognised social standards and taking into account ecologically and socially relevant aspects in its day-to-day activities. The Code of Conduct for Business Partners contains SIGNA’s expectations and requirements for business partners to adhere to basic ethical principles and to operate in a sustainable manner.