Real estate giant Signa declared insolvency on Wednesday.

It's the firm behind high profile projects and department stores across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The company also runs Germany's top high-street chain, Galeria...

And is an owner of New York's famous Chrysler Building.

Signa collapsed into insolvency after last-ditch attempts to find fresh funding failed.

Creditor groups say its debts amount to about $5.5 billion.

Now investors are worried the fallout could spread across Europe's embattled property sector.

Austrian bank Raiffeisen - one of the firm's biggest lenders - has warned real estate prices could sink if Signa starts selling assets.

The sector's troubles come after the steepest rise in borrowing costs in the 25-year history of the euro.

That has caused a deep slide in property prices in Germany, where much of Signa's businesses is anchored.

Analysts say its problems threaten to leave deep scars on the country's shopping streets.

The crisis has also halted work on Germany's tallest building - a 64-storey skyscraper in Hamburg.

Signa is majority controlled by Austrian magnate Rene Benko, while other rich individuals have minority stakes.

Dozens of banks, including Switzerland's Julius Baer, have lent heavily to the firm.