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Steinhoff’s board seeks more clout at shareholder meeting vote

Aug 30 2019 12:40
Janice Kew

Steinhoff’s new board is seeking more power as shareholders vote at its annual general meeting in Amsterdam Friday.

Shareholders will be deciding on the implementation of governance changes, including whether to allow the supervisory board the right to suspend managing directors at any time. The meeting starts at 1 pm local time.

Key Insights

Steinhoff’s recent agreement with creditors, which allows it to avoid paying principal and interest on about 9bn euros ($10bn) of debt until December 2021, was a vital step for bringing stability to the retailer. But those holding the shares have little left as the stock trades near all-time lows.

Steinhoff is asking shareholders to give more power to the boards, which both have several new faces on them. The argument is that these changes are needed to ensure the company has the agility to navigate the still tricky road ahead. They would also give managers the authority to implement mergers and demergers, without seeking shareholder approval.

Some analysts have questioned whether Steinhoff is heading to a systematic liquidation where all assets will be sold off over time, rather than a debt-for-equity swap when the restructured loans mature. At any rate, shareholders at Friday’s meeting are likely to want to know what steps are being taken to settle litigation against the company.

Market Reaction

The stock, which has slumped 98% since the accounting scandal erupted, traded 6.1% higher at 8 euro cents at 9:48 am in Frankfurt.

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