Harald Sachs, who was head of the tax affairs department of Asko Deutsche Kaufhaus AG in Saarbrücken at the time, played the role of tax consultant as the merger was planned and carried out.
Mr Sachs, on 9 October 1995, METRO announced that it would restructure its investments. How surprised were employees by this decision?
Only a few of them seemed to have been let in on the secret. On the evening of 8 October, I received a call from my boss. He asked me to come to a hotel in Düsseldorf. He told me that Erwin Conradi, who was Chairman of the Board of Directors at METRO Holding in Switzerland, had an important announcement to make. Around 600 managers of METRO Cash & Carry, Kaufhof, Asko and Deutsche SB-Kauf were invited to attend.
He didn't tell you what the announcement was about, did he?
No. Of course, I asked him, but I didn't get an answer. It was top secret.
And the secret was revealed one day later.
Exactly. Erwin Conradi explained how the merger to create a listed group would be carried out, and a new management team was introduced. Co-CEOs were planned – Wolfgang Urban, the head of Kaufhof Holding, and Klaus Wiegandt, the chairman of Asko.
How did people react?
A lot of them were uneasy. After all, they understood that the change would result in job cuts. For every function, there were at least two people filling it. And I doubt whether everyone in the conference room knew whether he or she was ranked No. 1 or No. 2.