In an astonishing sign of lack of confidence in Steinhoff International, Steinhoff’s former chairperson Christo Wiese has cut his stake in the troubled retailer, to 6.2percent, regulatory filings show, which may mean that he is no longer the largest shareholder.
Wiese cut his stake from 21percent to 6.2percent, filings posted on the Netherlands’ Authority for Financial Markets website showed.
Dr Daniel Matjila, the chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), at the weekend told Business Report: “If Christo Wiese sold his stake, it would have been very strategic to sell to a consortium of South African investors to keep control in South African hands.”
David Maynier, the DA finance shadow minister, said at the weekend: “I find it strange that Christo Wiese would dump such a significant stake shortly after telling finance committee members just how much value there was locked up in his Steinhoff shares.” The PIC, which manages state-worker pensions in South Africa, was listed as the largest shareholder after Wiese with a 7.5percent stake in Steinhoff as of January 31, according to data.
At a hearing with South African lawmakers on January 31, the PIC sought a review of the company’s voting pool arrangements. The pension manager also wants regulations covering large personal shareholdings, according to chief executive Dan Matjila.
Wiese also was at the hearing, and said news of the scandal came to him as “a bolt from the blue” and that he had no prior knowledge of any wrongdoing. Wiese, 76, has seen his net worth more than halve to $2.3billion as Steinhoff’s shares plunged.
Steinhoff in a presentaton to Parliament released these following points:
In one week, between December 4, 2017, and December 11, 2017, the Steinhoff share price declined by nearly 85percent.
The sharp decline in the Steinhoff share price affected all shareholders, in both the public and private sectors. A third of our shareholders are outside South Africa.
As Steinhoff was one of the top 10 shares on the JSE, it featured in tracking indices that are followed by investment funds including the PIC and the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).
We are working to stabilise and rebuild the group, and to restore trust. Securing the future of the Steinhoff businesses is the process by which we intend to protect and restore value for shareholders.
Steinhoff International is yet to publish any trading update or results, but its supervisory board assured the market and investors alike last month that it would be in a position to publish a trading update at the end of February.
Meanwhile on Friday Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) reported 15.5percent increase in revenue to R18.4bn for three months to end December.
Star is 78.26percent owned by the troubled retail giant Steinhoff International.
Star officially listed on September 20 on JSE and issued 750million new shares under a private placement in a book that was 4.8 times oversubscribed, raising an aggregate amount of R15.4bn.
It was unbundled from Steinhoff to give investors a chance to invest in Star directly.
Star said in a competitive retail environment, it achieved revenue growth of 15.5percent to R18.4bn, but on a comparable basis, revenue growth amounted to 8.5percent for the quarter.
The group said this excluded the contribution from the newly acquired Building Supply Group, effective October 1, 2017, but included the contribution of the Tekkie Town business in both the current and comparable quarters.
The Pep and Ackermans brands in aggregate reported 6.3percent revenue growth and 1.9percent like-for-like sales growth.