Steinhoff CEO quits, German prosecutors probe

SteinhoffSteinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has resigned one day after the South African conglomerate postponed its full-year results and continues to battle a probe by German prosecutors into its accounts.

Shares in the South African-headquartered, Frankfurt-listed company plunged over 63 per cent in morning trade following the announcements.

“In connection with the audit of the consolidated financial statements of the company for the financial year ended 30 September 2017, the supervisory board and the statutory auditors of the company have not yet finalised their review of certain matters and circumstances, most of which were raised by the criminal and tax investigation in Germany,” Steinhoff said in a statement.

Steinhoff now expects to publish audited 2017 consolidated financial statements before 31 January 2018.

Jooste – who has led the company since 2000 – had his resignation immediately accepted by the company’s board.

Steinhoff told shareholders that “new information has come to light which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation.”

Its supervisory board, in consultation with the statutory auditors of the company, have approached PwC to perform an independent investigation.

“Steinhoff will update the market as the aforesaid investigation proceeds,” the retailer said.

“The company will publish the audited 2017 consolidated financial statements when it is in a position to do so. In addition, the company will determine whether any prior years’ financial statements will need to be restated.”

Chairman, Dr Christo Wiese has been appointed as executive chairman (delegated supervisory chairman) on an interim basis.

Pieter Erasmus, the previous CEO of Pepkor Group, will join Dr Wiese in an executive advisory capacity to assist with managing the group’s various retail interests around the world.

“Dr Wiese and the board will supplement the management team and will embark on a detailed review of all aspects of the company’s business with a view to maximising shareholder value.”

Steinhoff recently consolidated all of its existing Asia Pacific retail brands, businesses, logistics, manufacturing and group services under one management structure.

Michael Ford, retail veteran and former chief of white goods retailer The Good Guys, was appointed chief executive officer for the newly formed Steinhoff Asia Pacific Group Holdings.

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