Steinhoff Ex-Chairman Backs Settlement as Claimants Vote

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV ex-Chairman Christo Wiese said he’s supportive of the company’s plan to resolve more than $8 billion of legal claims and will vote for the settlement offer.

The South African retail tycoon, who was also the biggest shareholder in scandal-hit Steinhoff, has been among certain creditors locked in talks about the terms of the proposed settlement.  

“Some matters needed greater certainty,” Wiese, 79, said by phone Monday. “A workable solution was reached.” 

Wiese, whose net worth declined by billions of dollars following the near collapse of Steinhoff in late 2017, didn’t provide details of the issues that have been resolved, nor say whether other claimants would vote to pass the deal. “The settlement is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Financial creditors and other investors seeking compensation for the loss in value of their Steinhoff stock voted on the deal Monday, with the majority of both groups in favor. Wiese and other so-called contractual claimants will cast their ballots at a rescheduled time on Thursday. 

The Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest money manager, was among those voting in favor. 

Lengthy Battle 

The company is battling to resolve the matter almost four years after auditors refused to sign off on its accounts, leading to the discovery of a litany of inflated profits and asset values. Former Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste is the subject of several police investigations and lawsuits connected with the matter which remain unresolved.  

In the year since Steinhoff announced the original $1 billion settlement proposal to investors, there have been efforts by various claimants to squeeze more out of the deal and the company improved the terms of its offer in July. 

Should the contractual claimants also vote for the deal it will still have to be ratified by a South African court and a separate Dutch process approved. Lancaster Group, owned by former Steinhoff director Jayendra Naidoo, as well as the founders of South African shoe retailer Tekkie Town, which Steinhoff bought in an all-stock deal in 2016, said they would opt out of voting on the settlement to pursue legal challenges.  

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