Steinhoff Director Van Zyl Quits Ahead of Investor Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- Steinhoff International Holdings NV non-executive director Johan Van Zyl resigned from the board of the troubled retailer just two days before what could be a tempestuous annual shareholder meeting in Amsterdam.

Van Zyl, 61, was appointed the head of a sub-committee responsible for keeping a closer eye on corporate governance in December after the South African retailer reported a hole in its accounts and the share price crashed. He was among a trio of board members who Steinhoff had earmarked for annual bonus payments before lawmakers objected to the plan earlier this month.

Van Zyl, the co-chief executive officer of investment group African Rainbow Capital Pty Ltd., is stepping down to allow the owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the U.S. to “build for the future,” he said in a statement Wednesday. The sub-committee he was leading will be absolved following the appointment of a new supervisory board at Friday’s meeting, he added.

He joined the board in 2016, and is also the chairman and former CEO of insurer Sanlam Ltd.

Van Zyl should take some responsibility for how the accounting irregularites came about as he was on the board at the time, David Maynier, the finance spokesman for the opposition Democratic Alliance, said in an emailed statement.

Steinhoff shares have slumped almost 95 percent since the scandal broke out, wiping more than 12 billion euros ($15 billion) from its market value. The company is in frequent talks with lenders to stay in operation, and is being investigated by regulators and law enforcement agencies in several jurisdictions. The retailer has said accounts dating back to 2015 need to be restated, while CEO Markus Jooste and billionaire Chairman Christo Wiese have quit.

The shares gained 7.5 percent as of 3:17 p.m. in Frankfurt.

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