File Image: IOL
File Image: IOL
BOARDROOM DRAMA: Markus Jooste, left, who resigned as chief executive of Steinhoff International after nearly 20 years at the helm, and Christo Wiese, the company’s largest shareholder and chairperson. Picture: Reuters
BOARDROOM DRAMA: Markus Jooste, left, who resigned as chief executive of Steinhoff International after nearly 20 years at the helm, and Christo Wiese, the company’s largest shareholder and chairperson. Picture: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - Retail holding group Steinhoff said on Thursday it had received expressions of interest in non-core assets which would release a minimum of €1billion (R160 873 65 486) of liquidity into the company.

In a statement released through the JSE exchange’s information service on Thursday, Steinhoff also said there was no evidence to suggest CFO Ben La Grange was involved in accounting irregularities that saw CEO Markus Jooste resign, triggering a heavy sell-off of Steinhoff shares.

“The company wishes to provide additional comfort on the company’s liquidity. In this regard, the company has today received expressions of interest in certain non-core assets that will release a minimum of €1bn of liquidity,” Steinhoff said.

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“In addition, the company’s subsidiary Steinhoff Africa Retail Limited (STAR) will today formally commit to the refinancing of its long-term liabilities due to the company.”

BOARDROOM DRAMA: Markus Jooste, left, who resigned as chief executive of Steinhoff International after nearly 20 years at the helm, and Christo Wiese, the company’s largest shareholder and chairperson. Picture: Reuters

The additional liquidity of about  €2 billion expected to be achieved through these measures would strengthen the company’s balance sheet and should provide additional comfort to stakeholders of its ability to fund its existing operations and reduce debt, it added.

Steinhoff said earlier this week its supervisory board had approached accounting firm PWC to perform an independent investigation after information came to light suggesting accounting irregularities.

It said the board had accepted Jooste's resignation with immediate effect and urged shareholders and other investors to exercise caution when dealing in the group’s securities.

On Thursday, South Africa's Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 230,000 members of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF), said it was intensifying the call to safeguard public servants’ pension investments in the wake of the Steinhoff fallout.

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"The GEPF is the biggest single investor in the JSE and losses because of share-price drops on the JSE following the Steinhoff disaster are still unknown, but are expected to be severe," PSA deputy General Manager Tahir Maepa said.

"It is claimed that members of the Fund may have lost about R12.5 billion through losses in investments in Steinhoff.," Maepa added, saying the PSA would seek to verify this.

Steinhoff cancelled the announcement of company results that had been scheduled for Wednesday, and said it would publish audited 2017 consolidated financial statements when in a position to do so.

In its latest statement, the company said group CFO La Grange would remain in his position.

Steinhoff, which has its origins in Germany, but is based in South Africa, is a global furniture and household goods retailer with more than 40 brands in over 30 countries .

AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY