File image: IOL.

JOHANNESBURG - Scandal-hit South African retailer Steinhoff has repaid about R29 billion ($2.34 billion) of its debt in Africa after its local unit used the proceeds of a fundraising to pay back R16 billion ($1.26 billion) in shareholder loans.

The retailer has been fighting for survival after it discovered accounting irregularities in December which sparked a sell-off in its shares that wiped more than $10 billion off its stock market value and led to multiple investigations globally.

Accordingly, the group has repaid approximately €2 billion of African debt since January 2018, it said in a statement.

“Save for working capital facilities of the automotive business and the African properties division, the group has no remaining African debt,” it added.

Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) raised the R16 billion from South African financial institutions to repay the loan which was provided by Steinhoff as part of STAR’s listing in September 2017.

STAR raised an additional R2 billion which it said on Wednesday will be used for its operations.

Steinhoff, which runs chains such as Britain’s Poundland, Mattress Firm in the United States and Conforama in France, said on May 10 it hoped to have a restructuring plan in place shortly to put to creditors that would include measures such as fixing the maturity for all loans at three years from the restructuring date.

Steinhoff still has about €8.7 billion of debt attributable to Europe and €25 million to the U.S. operations.

-REUTERS