One option is a possible sale of Kaufhof, the group’s low-margin department store chain, which also manages its Sportarenas in Germany. The new management of Arcandor, formerly called Karstadt Quelle, had indicated possible interest in Kaufhof, but the old management of Metro, led by Hans-Joachim Körber, had been opposed to a divestiture of the chain.

Metro, the world’s third-largest retailer, confirmed last week that Körber will leave the company at the end of October. He will be replaced by Eckhard Cordes, a former top executive of Daimler who is also president of the big family-owned Haniel group since the beginning of 2006. Cordes, who will simultaneously retain this function, was made chairman of Metro last February.

The change of management, which boosted Metro’s stock market capitalization to an all-time high, followed an increase in Haniel’s shareholding in the retail group from 18.56 to 34.24 percent. Haniel, which reportedly made a profit of €869 million last year on consolidated revenues of €27.7 million with interests in numerous companies, also struck a shareholders’ pact with two founders of Metro, Rainer and Michael Schmidt-Ruthenbeck, allowing them to control jointly 50.1 percent of Metro’s voting rights. The other major shareholder of Metro is another co-founder, 83-year-old Otto Beisheim, with 18.6 percent.

Simultaneously with the management change, Metro announced that its new 56-year-old chairman and chief executive will examine all possible option to raise shareholders’ value, but gave no details. Besides the sale of Kaufhof, analysts are speculating on a possible sale of Metro’s real estate. There is also a possibility that the group will want to divest its Real variety stores, but this option is said to be less likely because they contribute to an annual purchasing power of about €8.2 million together with Metro’s highly profitable cash & carry warehouses.

Metro, which generates 58 percent of its revenues from outside Germany, sells vast amounts of sporting goods in emerging markets through its cash & carry stores and through Real. In the first half of 2007, the cash & carry business represented 48.7 percent of Metro’s total revenues of €30.3 billion. Real and Kaufhof contributed 19.8 percent and 5.3 percent of the turnover, respectively. Media Markt and Saturn, two profitable chains of computer and hi-fi shops, constitute another strong segment of Metro’s business, contributing 24.7 percent of its revenues.