Germany’s 2 department store chains get clearance to merge

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s antitrust authority has cleared the planned merger of the country’s two main department store chains, ruling that it doesn’t threaten competition at a time when online retail is rising.

The Federal Cartel Office said Friday that the two companies exceed a combined 25 percent of market share only in a few goods and regions, and in many cases online retailers offer an alternative.

The deal, which was announced in September, will bring together Karstadt, owned by Austria’s Signa, and Kaufhof, owned by Hudson’s Bay Co. It includes HBC Europe’s other retail holdings, among them Belgium’s Galeria Inno and the Netherlands’ Hudson Bay.

Billed as a “merger of equals,” the agreement will give Signa 50.01 percent of shares in the resulting holding company and HBC 49.99 percent.

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