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Wiese sells more Shoprite stock as Steinhoff extends plunge

Dec 21 2017 19:12
Janice Kew and Renee Bonorchis
Johannesburg - Steinhoff International Holdings NV’s biggest shareholder, Christo Wiese, increased the amount he has raised from selling shares in food retailer Shoprite Holdings Ltd. to R3.3bn ($259 million) as his net worth continues to slide amid an accounting scandal.

Wiese’s liquidation of assets comes as Steinhoff’s stock extended its drop this month to 93%, fuelled by the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste after auditors refused to sign-off on the furniture and clothing company’s 2017 earnings.

Steinhoff, which is run from South Africa but has its main stock listing in Germany, faces a potential fire sale of its global retail holdings as it battles for survival. Wiese, the chairperson of Shoprite, sold R1.1bn of the grocer’s shares on Tuesday, according to a statement, following the sale of stock worth R2.2bn rand in the last week.

Steinhoff has not yet detailed the extent of the accounting irregularities. Adding to investor uncertainty, an appeals court decision in Amsterdam on a dispute with a former business partner that was expected this week will be delayed until next month, the company said.

Steinhoff has its official registration in the Netherlands, and investors are also suing the company in Germany.

A unit of Barclays Africa separately applied for liquidation of a company called Mayfair Speculators, which owns racehorses, property and Steinhoff shares and is linked to Jooste, according to legal documents.

Mayfair is being probed by the bank for moving R1.5bn of assets to its holding company in August ahead of information about Steinhoff’s accounting irregularities being released, according to the documents.

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