Home South African Embattled Steinhoff offers R1.37bn to settle claims

Embattled Steinhoff offers R1.37bn to settle claims


Included on the list of beneficiaries, along with claims from insurers, are about 20 former directors and officers.

Included on the list of beneficiaries, along with claims from insurers, are about 20 former directors and officers.

EMBATTLED Steinhoff International said yesterday that it had reached an agreement of up to €78.1 million (R1.37 billion) with some of its former directors and officers who worked for or had been associated with it to settle legal claims against the troubled retailer.

Steinhoff said that the list, which included claims from insurers, had about 20 names of its former directors and officers.

It said some of the beneficiaries would include former chairperson Christo Wiese, Steve Booysen, Heather Sonn and Bruno Steinhoff.

However, the group said it had excluded former chief executive Markus Jooste, former chief financial officer Ben la Grange, former Steinhoff Europe director Siegmar Schmidt and former company secretary Stehan Grobler from the list.

Steinhoff said it maintained the right to institute or continue claims against certain former directors and officers, including Jooste, La Grange, Grobler and Schmidt for their alleged involvement in the accounting irregularities under the comprehensive Steinhoff support settlement agreement.

Steinhoff International is facing a number of claims following the admission to accounting irregularities in December 2017 which led to a more than 95 percent collapse in its share and lost more than R200bn in market capitalisation.

Steinhoff’s former auditing firm Deloitte also chipped in with up €77.94m to help in the global settlement in February.

“Deloitte, the directors and officers insurers and the settling directors and officers do not in any way admit liability for the losses incurred by Steinhoff and its stakeholders as a result of the accounting irregularities at Steinhoff,” the group said.

Last year, Steinhoff tabled a proposal of €943m to settle the claims against it despite an independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finding that it overstated profits over several years in a €6.5bn accounting fraud involving a small group of top executives and outsiders in 2019.

In July 2020, European Investors-VEB recommended that all its partners, members and other constituents support Steinhoff’s global settlement proposal and its implementation.

“The Steinhoff Group will provide further updates in respect of implementation of the global settlement following the various processes identified,” the group said.

In another twist, former Pepkor

Holdings chairperson Jayendra Naidoo, who stepped down from the Pepkor board in January due to his legal battle with Steinhoff, is suing the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) for allegedly enabling Steinhoff to move assets worth €19bn overseas while the group was technically insolvent “to the detriment of the SA economy”.

This comes after the Financial Surveillance Department of the SARB granted Steinhoff the cross-border payments to be made as part of the proposed global settlement in December 2020.

SARB said yesterday that it would oppose the application from Jayendra Naidoo. “We are aware of the court application. We have briefed our lawyers on the matter and plan to oppose the application. The matters will be ventilated in court,” the SARB said.

Nesan Nair, a senior portfolio manager at Sasfin Securities said: “Many shareholders are unhappy that there is a differential treatment of shareholders in terms of the proposed settlement.”

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