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Germany's Loewe seeks new investor after group withdraws

The control button of a LOEWE television set is pictured at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Sc
The control button of a LOEWE television set is pictured at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Sc

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Insolvent German television maker Loewe is looking for a new partner to salvage the company after a group of investors said they wanted to pull out of a deal to purchase some of its assets and keep the brand going.

A group of investors, including a former senior manager at Apple and Bang & Olufsen, said in January they would buy Loewe's core television business for an undisclosed price.

But Loewe said on Monday the investors had informed it of plans to withdraw from the contract.

Loewe, started by brothers Siegmund and David Ludwig Loewe in 1923, first sought protection from creditors in July and then filed for insolvency in October after a strategy to combat the economic downturn by focusing on premium customers backfired.

It called on Monday on the investors to complete the deal and said it did not believe there was any legal basis for them to withdraw from the purchase contract and that it is considering legal action.

It said, though, it had already started talks with another investor and that the party in question had put forward a promising offer during Loewe's previous investor hunt.

"If we can reach an agreement quickly, we may yet be able to secure the future of Loewe," finance chief Rolf Rickmeyer said in a statement.

Consumers in Europe, where Loewe generates 97 percent of its sales, have shied away from paying between 1,000 euros and 5,000 euros ($1,400-$6,900) for flat-screen TV sets, as Samsung and LG Electronics among other rivals presented far cheaper mass-market models.

The investors, led by real estate entrepreneurs Constantin Sepmeier and Stefan Kalmund, had planned to cut around a quarter of jobs at the company and pitch the brand to younger consumers in Europe, Russia and China.

They were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

Loewe's management hope creditors will agree to give them more time for the search for a new investor at a meeting due to be held on Tuesday, German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in an advance excerpt of an article to be published on Tuesday. ($1 = 0.7285 euros)

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Additional reporting by Jens Hack; Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

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