Steinhoff tanks 57% as CEO leaves amid accounting probe

Pauline Gross
December 7, 2017

SHARES in Poundland owner Steinhoff International fell by 60 per cent this morning after the company announced an investigation into account irregularities.

Over near two decades Mr Jooste has overseen Steinhoff's expansion from a South African furniture manufacturer to one of the world's biggest household goods retailers.

Steinhoff bought the Willenhall-based chain of discount stores for £610 million past year. Jooste also resigned as a non-executive director of PSG.

Wiese, 76, and Jooste didn't immediately respond to calls to their mobile phones.

Steinhoff shares had previously slumped 18% on Monday and Tuesday.

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The move comes amid an investigation into accounting irregularities at the German firm, which is based in South Africa and is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Reuters reported last month that Steinhoff did not tell investors about nearly $1 billion in transactions with a related company, despite laws that some experts say require it to do so.

Well, Steinhoff employs around 3000 people as perhaps the biggest foreign investor in Australian retailing. Steinhoff Africa said CEO Ben la Grange, who's also chief financial officer of Steinhoff International, resigned. 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 United States and Poundland in the UK. Steinhoff said at the time it was "fully committed" to support the probe.

It said it would also investigate whether previous financial results need to be corrected.

The company is involved in ongoing civil litigation - including with a former joint-venture partner - and the outcome "should result in monetary remedy to be paid by the group", Steinhoff said in August.

The company said in August that "no evidence exists" that Steinhoff broke Germany's commercial laws. According to the news agency Reuters, investors are now concerned that Wiese may be forced to sell shares he bought a year ago with borrowed money, which would depress Steinhoff's stock further.

Other reports by GizPress

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