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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Steinhoff changes Independent Director 'Dirk Schreiber' to Bolster Oversight

Johannesburg/London — Steinhoff has replaced Dirk Schreiber on the boards of two key units as the embattled retailer seeks to bolster independent oversight.


The owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US last week won support from
a majority of creditors to restructure its €9.4bn of debt, a vital step towards its recovery from an accounting scandal. While Steinhoff is only midway through a year-long investigation into its finances, it has been moving to strengthen its boards following the departure of CEO Markus Jooste in December.

Schreiber, who was previously the chief financial officer of Steinhoff Europe, stepped down as a director of the unit, which houses brands such as Pepco and Poundland. He also stepped down as a director of the convertible-bond unit Steinhoff Finance Holding in June, a company spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to questions.

‘Independent directors’
"New boards have been constituted inclusive of independent directors," she said.

Steinhoff Europe’s management board is now made up of Theo de Klerk and David Frauman, while Frauman and Louis du Preez sit on the Steinhoff Finance board.

Steinhoff has written off the value of assets by at least €12.4bn and said restatements of its financials might have to go back to at least 2015.

Since the December 5 announcement of accounting irregularities, then chairman Christo Wiese, who told South African MPs in January that the news came as a "bolt from the blue", resigned. Ben la Grange stepped down as chief financial officer, while four other supervisory board members, including founder Bruno Steinhoff, retired early as the company sought to add more independent directors.

In March, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Jooste had conspired with fellow Steinhoff executives to move revenue figures around subsidiaries to boost their balance sheets. Jooste discussed how to manipulate accounts for the 2014 fiscal year, the German newspaper said, citing internal e-mails.

At Steinhoff’s annual general meeting in April, chairwoman Heather Sonn said the company wanted to "uncover the truth, show the world what has happened, prosecute any wrongdoing and reinstate trust". All board members have agreed to quit immediately if they are implicated in any wrongdoing, she said.

Bloomberg

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