File image: IOL.
Steinhoff International has lost its second executive director in three months after its chief financial officer (CFO), Philip Dieperink, announced that he would leave the troubled retailer at the end of August.

Dieperink’s departure follows that of former deputy chief executive Alexandre Nodale, who announced his departure in April.

However, Nodale indicated that he would stay on as the chief executive of Conforama, Steinhoff’s subsidiary, until the company finalises its long-term financing.

Steinhoff said yesterday that Dieperink would step down, by mutual consent, from both his membership of the management board of Steinhoff and as CFO on August 31 after the 2019 annual general meeting.

“Following a handover period, he will leave the Steinhoff Group on December 31, 2019. Philip Dieperink will be succeeded as CFO by Theodore de Klerk, currently operations director and member of the management board,” Steinhoff said.

Dieperink assumed the role of chief financial officer after the group was plunged into controversy following admitting to accounting irregularities in December 2017, which resulted in its share price declining by more than 90percent and a loss in market capitalisation of more than R200billion. Former CE Markus Jooste and then CFO Ben la Grange left the group under a cloud. The two former executives were fingered by PwC’s forensic report as being involved in fictitious and irregular transactions worth about e6.5bn (R103bn).

Steinhoff has lodged a claim of more than R1bn against both Jooste and La Grange for salaries, bonuses and other incentives paid to them between 2009 and 2017, according to legal papers filed in the high court in Cape Town.

Steinhoff said Dieperink agreed to become CFO in January 2018 and was appointed as managing director of Steinhoff in April 2018.

“He has played an important role in negotiating and finalising the various arrangements to restructure the group's financial indebtedness and in the process leading towards implementation of the company voluntary arrangements.

“He also played a key part in finalising both the 2017 and 2018 annual reports of Steinhoff and drafting the remediation plan arising from the PwC investigation,” the group said.

Dieperink’s tenure as CFO involved publishing the group’s long-overdue 2017 and 2018 financial results, with the 2017 results revealing a loss of e3.99bn and a further loss of e1.19bn for 2018.

Steinhoff said Dieperink would leave the group having accomplished the key objectives set at the time of his appointment.

Heather Sonn, the chairperson of Steinhoff, said the restructuring continued to make good progress and was nearing completion, with Dieperink having stepped into the role of CFO at a very difficult time.

“Philip Dieperink has made a significant contribution to the management board that has successfully stabilised the group while it continues to work towards a recovery of value. Philip’s efforts and expertise have been invaluable as we faced the challenges of the last 18 months, and we thank him for his guidance and leadership over this period,” Sonn said.

BUSINESS REPORT