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Steinhoff ups offer to settle shareholder claims

Scandal-hit South African retailer Steinhoff International said on Wednesday it was increasing its proposed lawsuit settlement offer by R3,21bn ($217m), taking the total to €1,43bn...
Source: Reuters/Mike Blake
Source: Reuters/Mike Blake

The announcement, which raised hopes the matter was nearing completion, sent its Johannesburg-listed shares up 22.62%, to a more than one-month high, while its primary Frankfurt-listed shares jumped by 22.26% at 1149 GMT.

The retailer faces 90 separate legal claims in Germany, South Africa and the Netherlands from shareholders who lost money when it revealed holes in its accounts in December 2017, the first sign of a multi-billion dollar fraud.

Steinhoff has previously increased its settlement proposal to win over claimants. Last month, it raised its offer by €243m, but that was not seen as enough. "Whilst Steinhoff has received positive responses to its 16 July offer, indications have been that it has attracted insufficient overall support to achieve certainty of outcome," it said.

"Steinhoff believes that the adjusted proposed settlement can resolve both legacy claims and, in SIHPL's (Steinhoff International Holdings Proprietary Limited) case, the more recent disputes."

The additional and final increase only applies to market purchase claimants against SIHPL, the former South African holding company of the Steinhoff group, and will be made available by SIHPL alone, it said.

Steinhoff, the majority-owner of Pepkor in Africa and Pepco in Europe, said the revised offer was subject to regulatory and financial creditor approvals and does not constitute an admission of liability. Steinhoff said it has received confirmation that the active claimant group, Hamilton, supports in principle the global settlement based on the increased contribution by SIHPL.

"We believe that the overall Steinhoff settlement is now at a financial level at which we can add our in-principle support," said Oscar McLaren, a director of Dublin-based Hamilton.

The next step is for the retail group to hold a creditors' meeting to vote on the proposal and get necessary approvals to finalise the settlement.


Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world's largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day.
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Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Emma Rumney and Barbara Lewis

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