Tuesday 19 June 2018

Dealz backer dumps Steinhoff shares to meet margin call

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Photo: Reuters
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Photo: Reuters

Janice Kew and Thembisile Dzonzi

South African billionaire Christo Wiese's stake in Steinhoff International has been cut to about 6pc after banks sold stock put up by the former chairman to secure margin loans, costing him billions of dollars in losses on the scandal-hit South African retailer.

The reduction in the shareholding from 20.52pc was involuntary and he doesn't know which lenders sold or who bought the stock, Mr Wiese said yesterday. That's the last of the forced disposals, and he has no plans to sell down the stake further, the billionaire said.

Christo Wiese is one of South Africa's wealthiest men and emerged as one of the biggest losers in a financial scandal that's knocked almost 90pc off Steinhoff's market valuation, or more than €11bn. The group owns discount retailer Dealz here, along with Poundland in the UK, Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US. Steinhoff said in early December that it had uncovered accounting irregularities and that CEO Markus Jooste quit.

Wiese's net worth has plunged to $2.1bn from about $5bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The scandal has also led to a fall in the value of a stake owned by the Public Investment Corp, a manager of South African state-worker pensions. Banks including JPMorgan and Nomura have also booked big losses as the shares plunged. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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