RealTime IT News

German Retailer Metro Buys 51 Percent of Primus Online

Germany's biggest retailer, Metro AG, purchased a 51 percent controlling interest in Primus Online from a unit of its Swiss parent company and said it plans to expand its e- commerce business.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The stake was purchased from Switzerland's BHS AG. Primus, according to Bloomberg News. Primus Online expects 1999 sales of as much as 30 million deutsche marks ($16 million), according to its Web site.

Metro AG, which owns Kaufhof department stores and the Saturn consumer electronics chain, is seeking to increase online sales amid growing competition as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. expands in Europe.

Baar, Switzerland-based BHS, now holds 49 percent in Primus Online Handel und Dienstleistung GmbH. Primus started as a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler AG's Debis unit in February 1998 and employs 172 people.

BHS bought the rest of Primus from Debis in October for an undisclosed price. BHS is a subsidiary of Swiss holding company Metro Holding AG, which also owns 60.7 percent of Metro AG.