Steinhoff International Holdings executives briefed the South African parliament of the group’s ongoing efforts to reduce the massive debt hole discovered in the company’s finances in December 2017.
Steinhoff’s chairperson of the supervisory board Heather Sonn, and commercial director Louis du Preez, presented before the parliament that the company was doing its utmost to uncover the truth, rectify any wrongdoings and to communicate as fully as possible.
Since January 2018, the group noted it has cleared and completed a significant number of its audits, repaid substantial amounts of its debts, and has averted the threat of imminent collapse through the lock-up agreement and disposals of certain assets.
Steinhoff said that it had successfully repaid €2 billion of South African holding company debt, and save for Pepkor debt and working capital, has very limited African debt remaining.
The lock-up agreement, finalised in July 2018, is providing time for the group to implement a debt restructure, which will afford the group financial stability until the end of 2021, according to the presentation to the parliament.
The company hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct an internal investigation to determine what caused the events of December 2017 and the company’s responsibility for those events.
Steinhoff said it has made good progress and is cooperating with investigators and regulators.
PwC expects the investigation to be substantially completed by the end of 2018.
Former CEO steps up
As part of the parliamentary enquiry, former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has agreed to appear before members of parliament on September 5 to answer questions regarding the collapse of the business, according to BusinessDay.za.
Resigning from his position of chief executive in December 2017, Jooste has remained silent about the collapse, citing the fact that he is no longer CEO and can no longer represent Steinhoff.
Jooste agreed to give evidence under oath, and to be questioned “to identify any institutional flaws and challenges existing in the relevant financial regulatory framework or any implementation challenges in the financial regulatory framework which might have caused or given rise to the collapse of the value of Steinhoff shares”.
The group holds approximately 12,000 retail outlets across 30 countries, and employees approximately 120,000 workers.
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