Steinhoff Frustrates Investors as 2017 Results Delayed Once More

(Bloomberg) -- Steinhoff International Holdings NV has spent more than 17 months revising and reworking audited earnings for its 2017 financial year. Yet on the day the retailer was finally scheduled to publish them, the results didn’t come when expected.

The South African owner of Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Conforama in France was originally due to report the earnings back in December 2017. What happened next has been the subject of two books and thousands of words of media reporting: Deloitte LLP refused to sign off, ex-Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste quit and the share price crashed 96 percent.

The delay on Tuesday, well after trading had closed in Johannesburg and Frankfurt, marks strike four for the embattled firm. After the December postponement, the firm told South Africa’s parliament in August 2018 that it will release the results by the end of December of that year, which was shifted to mid-April and then again to May 7.

Getting to grips with what’s going on with Steinhoff’s finances has been a Herculean task. Thanks in part to a 15-month forensic investigation by PwC, it’s known that a small group of former executives -- with some outside help -- put together deals that substantially inflated profits and asset values.

The audited finances promised by Steinhoff, if they still come on Tuesday, are expected to reveal vital details needed to understand what’s become known as South Africa’s biggest corporate fraud.

But alas, investors -- present and past -- are again being made to wait, with the company unsure of whether it can finalize the details on Tuesday -- a day before South African markets will be closed for elections. Creditors, legal claimants, staff and South African pensioners are also being kept in the dark.

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