Billionaire Peugeot Dynasty Takes Near $300 Million Signa Hit

(Bloomberg) - The billionaire Peugeot family has revealed the extent of its losses from investments in the collapsed Austrian property empire Signa, a further black mark in the clan’s track record on diversification.

Peugeot Invest, the listed firm controlled by the French clan and headed by Robert Peugeot, reported net losses of €272 million ($296 million) from holdings across the Signa group since inception, making up the bulk of the total hit from real estate holdings.

The 4.6% investment in Signa Prime Selection AG dating from 2019 and the 5% holding in Signa Development Selection AG made two years later were fully impaired, according to the statement. Overall, Peugeot Invest said the negative impact last year from valuations of unlisted property assets was €434 million.

Peugeot Invest’s Signa losses were accompanied by a shakeup in top management. The company announced earlier this month the departure of Chief Executive Officer Bertrand Finet, who’d also overseen the souring of another investment, in scandal-ridden elderly-care operator Orpea SA.

Shareholders of Signa Prime and Signa Development are set to lose almost all of their investments in Rene Benko’s conglomerate based on a restructuring plan approved by creditors on Monday. The plan includes paying creditors 30% of their claims and moving almost all property assets to a trustee to manage an orderly sale process.

Robert Peugeot was member of the supervisory boards at both Signa Prime and Signa Development at the time of their insolvency filings at the end of December.

Read more: Signa Creditors Back Restructuring Plans Dangling 30% Payout

The losses at Peugeot Invest from the Signa and other real estate holdings were offset by huge market gains from its main historic asset, a 7% stake in automaker Stellantis NV, which emerged from a combination of the family’s eponymous car maker and Fiat Chrysler.

Peugeot Invest reported net asset value at the end of 2023 of €5.95 billion compared with €4.97 billion a year earlier. In addition to Stellantis, investments in SPIE and SEB also performed well, the company said.

In a further move to diversify, the Peugeot family last year became part of a trio of France’s wealthiest dynasties investing in Rothschild & Co. to take the French bank private.

The Peugeots trace their industrial roots to 1810, when an ancestor converted a windmill into a steel workshop. Its first auto dates back to 1889. Family members are still actively involved in the business and make up more than half of the Peugeot Invest board.

By Tara Patel and Marton Eder


More Articles