New Steinhoff CEO 'largely untainted by the stink' - author of Steinhoff book | Fin24
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New Steinhoff CEO 'largely untainted by the stink' - author of Steinhoff book

Nov 19 2018 21:57
Carin Smith

Danie van der Merwe's decision to step down as Steinhoff's acting CEO is long overdue, James-Brent Styan, author of the book Steinhoff: Inside SA's Biggest Corporate Crash, told Fin24 on Monday.

In his view, Van der Merwe's decision to step down will help Steinhoff in its attempt to try and recover investor confidence.

Steinhoff announced on Monday that Van der Merwe will be stepping down at the end of December. He was chief of operations when he took over from Markus Jooste, former CEO, who resigned in December 2017 as an accounting scandal unfolded. The group's stock has lost more than 90% of its value since then.

"This was inevitable. Van der Merwe can rightfully be considered to have been the right-hand man of Jooste for many years. He should have resigned a long time ago. He was too close to Jooste for him to be able to instil any confidence in investors," Styan told Fin24.

As for Louis du Preez, Steinhoff's current commercial director, who is set to take over from Van der Merwe, he only joined the group a few months before the scandal broke. Therefore, he is "largely untainted by the stink" in Styan's view.

"Du Preez is probably the best candidate, but will he save the company? I don't think so, the damage was so severe," said Styan.

"But for restructuring this is a step in the right direction and should restore some confidence."

Styan emphasised that the "Steinhoff puzzle is massively complex". He said everyone is eagerly awaiting the PwC forensic report on the saga - even the Hawks.

"The PwC report will probably be the most credible investigation into the Steinhoff mess. The public interest is too big for Steinhoff not to ultimately release it, although I heard a rumour that it does not intend to release the full forensic report. We will have to wait and see," said Styan.

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steinhoff  |  markus jooste  |  retail


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