31 Jan

Steinhoff Reports Ex-CEO Jooste to South African Police Unit

Steinhoff International Holdings NV reported former Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste to South Africa’s anti-graft police unit for suspected corruption offences as the global retailer battles to recover from an accounting scandal.

The owner of Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Conforama in France alerted the division known as the Hawks as part of an investigation into financial irregularities at the company, acting Chairman Heather Sonn told lawmakers in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Steinhoff still doesn’t know the origin of the crisis and is conducting its probe as quickly as possible, she said.

Sonn is appearing at a hearing called by three parliamentary sub-committees to deepen their understanding of the crisis and subsequent investigations.

Ex-chairman and biggest shareholder Christo Wiese also gave evidence, the billionaire’s first public outing since the start of the crisis. He described news of the wrongdoing as a “bolt from the blue.”

Jooste, who quit when Steinhoff said it uncovered accounting irregularities on Dec. 5, and former Chief Financial Officer Ben La Grange are not attending the hearing.

Neither Jooste nor Wiese have previously commented on the origins of the crisis, which has wiped 85 percent off the value of the company.

Wiese’s net worth has plummeted to about $2.3 billion from more than $5 billion in the wake of the accounting scandal, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s became Steinhoff’s biggest shareholder when he agreed to sell Pepkor, Africa’s biggest clothing chain, to the company in 2014.

The Public Investment Corp., which manages South African government worker pensions, is another major Steinhoff shareholder and its stake has lost more than $1 billion in value. The PIC will also appear at the hearing.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-31/steinhoff-ex-chairman-wiese-to-face-south-african-lawmakers

18 May

Steinhoff Plans Africa Spinoff After $3 Billion Expansion

Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd.

The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub.

The move reflects the parent company’s transformation into a global retail giant with about two-thirds of its revenue generated outside Africa — a proportion that’s growing after Steinhoff last year spent more than $3 billion on takeovers in the U.K., U.S. and Australia. The listing is aimed at creating value for Steinhoff investors, including billionaire Christo Wiese, after a roughly 10 percent drop in the shares since discussions with Shoprite ended in February.

“This is very much a plan B,” Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, said by phone. “It looks like a last-ditch attempt to get a bit of value in the business.”

The planned separation is “a natural progression” for Steinhoff following its expansion, the company said in a statement. Wiese, 75, became Steinhoff’s biggest shareholder when he sold clothing chain Pepkor to the company for 62.8 billion rand ($4.8 billion) in 2014. He is also the largest investor in Cape Town-based Shoprite, and was at the heart of the combination talks between the two companies.

In addition to Pepkor and JD, Steinhoff’s African assets include sports-shoe specialist Tekkie Town and Poco furniture stores. Combined sales for the company’s businesses on the continent were 4.3 billion euros in the 12 months through September.

Read more: Steinhoff Plans Africa Spinoff After $3 Billion Expansion