Steinhoff shares sink as CEO Jooske leaves amid 'accounting irregularities'

Dec 07, 2017, 00:46
Steinhoff shares sink as CEO Jooske leaves amid 'accounting irregularities'

Steinhoff SNHJ.J SNHG.DE said chief executive Markus Jooste, who oversaw its expansion to one of the world's largest household goods retailers over almost 20 years, had resigned and PwC would undertake an "independent investigation".

Its European operation expanded previous year to include United Kingdom discount retailer Poundland.

Steinhoff International, the owner of US -based Mattress Firm, announced an investigation into "accounting irregularities" and the resignation of its CEO.

South African billionaire and chairman of the company, Christo Wiese, will run the company on a temporary basis. The company later said its chief financial officer remained in his position and there was no evidence to suggest he had any involvement in the matters being investigated.

The investigation could result in prior years' financial statements needing to be adjusted.

The company announced that new information had emerged which required investigation into accounting irregularities, and said it was unable to publish its financial results as a result.

Steinhoff reminded shareholders in a statement that it "has a number of high quality profitable businesses around the world" and urged them to "exercise caution".

As well as furniture and homeware, it also sells products including clothing, footwear and consumer goods. Besides Australia and South Africa, it owns retail chains in the UK, Europe and the United States, as well as controlling other African retailing businesses. Steinhoff derives about 60% of its earnings in Europe and 34% in Africa.

The group said in a stock exchange announcement: "Steinhoff will update the market as the aforesaid investigation proceeds".

The company's Supervisory Board said that "new information has come to light today which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation".

It is not clear if these are the accounting irregularities Steinhoff is referring to in its latest statement. Omri Thomas of Abax Investments, the 15th largest investor in Steinhoff, said because there was no immediate prospect of any clarity on its results, it was hard to put a value on Steinhoff and this had prompted the severe share reaction.

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