(Bloomberg) -- The Schoeller industrial clan is taking control of a unit that indirectly owns a handful of Signa’s German department stores, looking to recoup money lost in the insolvency of the real estate group.

The Schoeller Group has taken over Signa Prime Luxembourg Sarl via shares that had been pledged as security for a loan now in default, according to filings to the Luxembourg business registry. A company owned by the industrialist family has separately requested merger clearance in Germany for the transaction.

The move by the family, which traces its lineage back to iron production in the 16th century, may potentially siphon off funds that could be used to pay back other investors of Rene Benko’s insolvent company.

The enforcement action relates to a €200 million ($214 million) loan Schoeller granted to Signa’s flagship luxury property unit in July 2023, which was secured with shares of subsidiaries that owned some of Signa’s most prominent buildings.

Liquidating Benko’s vast empire is proving to be challenging despite it owning highly-coveted properties such as London’s Selfridges department store and KaDeWe in Berlin. 

Some of the €20 billion in creditor claims are linked directly to buildings, but there’s also an array of intermediary company loans higher in the corporate structure — such as Schoeller’s — which trustees are grappling to untangle. 

The regulatory disclosures show Schoeller claiming the Luxembourg unit, which indirectly owns at least five department stores in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Schoeller — which is active in the packaging, processing and real estate industries — had also acted on claims related to other Signa assets it had been pledged as a guarantee. 

A spokesperson for Signa Prime Selection AG’s insolvency administrator declined to comment. The Schoeller Group didn’t immediately respond to an email and call seeking comment.

Creditors of Signa Prime agreed to a restructuring in March that promises them at least 30% of their claims following an orderly sale of property assets.

Efforts by Signa Prime’s administrator to settle the Schoeller Group’s claims have faced obstacles in the past. Creditors rejected an initial deal to sell a portfolio of assets in March, Bloomberg previously reported. 

A more recent agreement to sell Italian assets to the family, including Hotel Bauer in Venice, has been complicated by investment fund King Street Capital Management, which has emerged as a shareholder in one of the hotel’s holding companies.

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