Steinhoff accounting scandal sinks shares, CEO exits

07 December, 2017, 02:20 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • A Steinhoff International Holdings NV logo sits on display outside the company's offices in Stellenbosch South Africa on Wednesday Aug. 17 2016

After initially falling 60 per cent to a seven year low, the shares in Steinhoff, which owns 40 local brands in more than 30 countries, later recovered but were still down 52%.

Steinhoff global CEO Markus Jooste stepped down on Tuesday with German prosecutors saying a number of officials are now under investigation.

Steinhoff said its chairman and largest shareholder Christo Wiese would take temporary charge while a successor to Mr Jooste was identified.

The company has also postponed its full year results as it calls in accountants from PwC to launch an independent probe into the accounting irregularities.

It said that it would publish the audited 2017 consolidated financial statements "when it is in a position to do so" and that it would also determine whether any prior years' financial statements would need to be restated.

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The company said (http://www.steinhoffinternational.com/downloads/2017/Announcement%205%20Dec%202017%20JSE.pdf) "new information has come to light today which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation". Steinhoff has been aggressively expanding in developed markets since moving its primary share listing from Johannesburg to Frankfurt in 2015, snapping up Britain's Poundland, US-based Mattress Firm and Australia's Fantastic. Steinhoff stock closed down 63 percent in Frankfurt, while its bonds also sold off sharply.

Kepler Cheuvreux said the pending tax and accounting investigations "could show severe irregularities".

Deloitte is Steinhoff's current auditor. The company has transformed itself in the past four years from a mostly African-focused retailer to an acquisitive powerhouse that now owns Mattress Firm in the USA and Poundland in the UK.

PSG Financial Services advised shareholders on Wednesday that its board of directors received and accepted the resignation of Jooste as a non-executive director of PSG Group and PSG Financial Services, with immediate effect. Theodore de Klerk was appointed as his replacement, PSG said on Wednesday.

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