Debt-laden conglomerate Arcandor – parent of the Karstdadt stores business – aims to formally apply for state aid soon, its boss told reporters. “We are striving to submit an official request for state guarantees through the banks,” said chief executive Karl-Gerhard Eick. Small banks want to withdraw e90m (£81m) loans from Arcandor.

The government said its support fund for companies would be open for Arcandor if it needs to use it.