Steinhoff shares rally as beleaguered retailer names acting CEO

UPDATE 16:15: The Steinhoff share rally appears to have been fairly short-lived. As of 16:00 on Tuesday its shares were trading down 11.5% on the day at R7.50 a share. 

Cape Town - Steinhoff’s supervisory board on Tuesday announced that it had nominated Danie van der Merwe to become the troubled firm’s acting chief executive officer.

The position has been vacant following the resignation of Christo Wiese last Thursday. Wiese, in turn, took over the role following the abrupt resignation of Markus Jooste on December 5.

Van der Merwe, 59, is currently the Stellenbosch-headquartered conglomerate’s chief operating officer. 

A short biography of him on the Steinhoff [JSE:SHN] website notes that he joined the group in early 1998, and was appointed as a director of Steinhoff International in 1999. 

“He previously acted as chief executive officer for Steinhoff’s southern hemisphere operations and was appointed as group chief operating officer in 2013,” it states. 

His nomination will be submitted to a general meeting for appointment "in due course".

Van der Merwe will be taking the helm of the company at an extremely difficult time. 

Steinhoff shares plunged earlier this month when news broke that Jooste resigning "with immediate effect", and that PricewaterhouseCoopers had been retained to conduct an independent investigation into "accounting irregularities requiring further investigation".

The company is also facing at least seven different investigations, ranging from a probe by SA's Financial Service Board to a long-simmering criminal investigation in Germany.  

READ: A quick guide to who's probing Steinhoff

By 13.45 on Tuesday, Steinhoff shares were trading more than 13% higher R9.59 on the JSE, after reaching an intraday high of R9.77. This is still some 80% weaker than the R46.25 at which the shares were changing hands before Jooste resigned on December 5. 

Board changes 

Steinhoff, which on Tuesday is also set to meet with creditors, added it had nominated two additional members "to further strengthen its management board". 

Alexandre Nodale, the CEO of Conforama - one of Steinhoff’s major European subsidiaries - has been nominated to become deputy CEO. 

“Alexandre will bring additional financial oversight and European retail experience to the management board. He will remain CEO of Conforama,” read the media release.  

Louis du Preez, meanwhile, has also been nominated for a seat.  

Steinhoff described him as an “experienced qualified attorney, specialising in corporate and commercial matters”.

Following Wiese's resignation as chairperson, meanwhile, Heather Sonn took over this role. 

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