Steinhoff’s chair resigns amid accounting troubles

Steinhoff

Christo Wiese has resigned from the supervisory board set up to defuse the accounting crisis that has hit retail conglomerate Steinhoff International.

In a statement, Steinhoff said Wiese, its top shareholder and chairman who stood in as chief executive last week, had offered to step down to reinforce independent governance and address any possible conflict of interest.

Steinhoff also named Heather Sonn, a member of the supervisory board and its independent sub-committee, as acting chairperson.

Wiese’s son Jacob has also resigned from the board.

The embattled retail giant also said its accounting troubles may stretch back into last year, after the conglomerate said it will have to restate its 2016 accounts as they “can no longer be relied upon.”

Earlier this week, Steinhoff  appointed an international advisory team – comprised of Moelis & Company (Moelis) and AlixPartners – as the owner of furniture chains including Freedom and Fantastic Furniture looks to shore up its accounts.

The company, on the advice of the independent committee of the supervisory board, has formed the view that issues concerning the validity and recoverability of certain Steinhoff Europe balance sheet assets under scrutiny in the 2017 audit work, are also relevant to the 2016 consolidated financial statements,” Steinhoff said in a statement.

“Therefore, the Company announces that, based on section 2:362 (6) of the Dutch Civil Code, the 2016 consolidated financial statements will need to be restated and can no longer be relied upon.”

Shares in the retailer plunged almost 80 per cent last week after the company’s recent announcements.

Steinhoff’s “accounting irregularities” and postponement of its results prompted the South African-headquartered, Frankfurt-listed retailer’s CEO Markus Jooste to quit.

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