Steinhoff may move home base to Germany

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London - Steinhoff International is exploring moving its home base from South Africa to Germany to be closer to its biggest markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The home-furnishings seller is considering listing in Frankfurt and potentially moving its legal domicile to Germany as part of that process, said the people, who declined to be identified discussing a private matter.

That plan, which would replace the alternative of listing only Steinhoff’s European business that is also being considered, could include either retaining a Johannesburg listing or leaving that exchange, the people said.

Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, and Commerzbank are working with Steinhoff on the plans, the people added.

By relocating to Germany, the company would also benefit from being able to use European shares to pay for acquisitions as well as more liquid trading, one of the people said.

Other South African companies with substantial international operations have made similar moves to be closer to bigger overseas markets.

Brewer SABMiller moved its primary listing to London in 1999, where it’s now based -- a similar trajectory to that of mining group Anglo American.

Both companies have kept South African market listings.

Mariza Nel, a director at Steinhoff, declined to comment.

Barclays, Citigroup and Commerzbank declined to comment.

BNP couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Steinhoff gets about half its revenue from continental Europe.

It spent 1.21 billion euros ($1.68 billion) to buy French retailer Conforama in 2011.

It also bought Austrian furniture retailer kika-Leiner last year. - Bloomberg News

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