Steinhoff’s Stellenbosch, Cape Town, branch.
JOHANNESBURG - Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) has issued R6billion worth of funding preference shares to SA financial institutions to refinance part of a loan it owes to shareholder Steinhoff Africa Holdings. 

The embattled retailer said investors had already indicated willingness to subscribe the shares with an aggregate subscription price subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions.

“As part of the refinancing process, STAR envisages that one of its wholly owned subsidiaries will issue funding preference shares to South African financial institutions to fund a portion of that refinance,” the group said.

The move comes as the Dutch Investors’ Association (VEB) said this week that it wanted to hold Absa, Barclays Plc and Commerzbank liable for damages incurred by Steinhoff shareholders following the company’s R100bn wipe-out in the wake of an accounting scandal that saw chief executive Markus Jooste resigning in December.

VEB claimed that Absa was responsible for circulating prospectuses to investors that contained false and misleading statements relating to Steinhoff’s financial position.

Absa confirmed receiving a notice from VEB yesterday afternoon. “We can confirm that no notice was sent to Absa prior to this. The notice purports to establish liability on the part of Absa for losses allegedly suffered by investors in Steinhoff International Holdings,” Absa Bank said.

“We wish to reiterate that Absa Bank was the JSE transaction sponsor to Steinhoff International Holdings (Steinhoff South Africa). Absa’s role was limited to ensuring that the JSE’s listing rules were complied with by Steinhoff SA, the relevant JSE-listed company. Absa’s mandate specifically did not include the compilation or review of the financial statements of Steinhoff South Africa or any other Steinhoff company,” the bank said.

Absa disputed the allegations and said it would respond to VEB in due course.

STAR said yesterday that its board had advised its shareholders to guarantee the issuer’s contractual obligations on the shares to the subscribers.

Steinhoff shares rose 4.49percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R2.56.

- BUSINESS REPORT