Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Poundland owner Steinhoff tells angry shareholders it is renegotiating debt

Steinhoff, the South African retailer, said today that it is renegotiating its debt as it faced shareholders for the first time since its shares plunged on the emergence of an accounting scandal.

An investigation into the scandal is making "good progress", the acting chairman told investors, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

At a meeting in Amsterdam today, Steinhoff also said it is engaging with creditors to develop a restructuring plan.

Acting chief executive Daniel van Merwe said that there is still an estimated €12bn debt and the company has an "informal standstill" with debitors.

The company will not declare any dividends until it is stable.

Steinhoff owns Poundland, Benson for Beds and Harveys in the UK, as well as numerous retail brands internationally.

The company has admitted that it overstated income and asset values, and that accounts going back to 2015 are not accurate.

Auditor PwC is conducting the investigation into the group's financial woes. In the meantime, it has been rumoured that Steinhoff may have to sell off Poundland or other businesses to ease its troubles. Private equity biddershave been eyeing the chain in the aftermath of the Steinhoff scandal.

The debacle has also affected other companies including HSBC, JP Morgan, and Investec due to their exposure to Steinhoff.

Read more: Former boss of Steinhoff reported to the police

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