Christo Wiese jumps in as Steinhoff CEO quits over accounting failures

Johannesburg - Steinhoff International Holdings' Chief Executive Officer Marcus Jooste resigned with immediate effect after the global furniture and clothing retailer reported irregularities in its accounts that require further investigation.

The owner of the France-based Conforama furniture store chain and Pep clothing stores in Africa has appointed auditor PwC to probe the matter, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

South African billionaire and chairperson of the company, Christo Wiese, will run the company on a temporary basis.

The retailer, which has origins in South Africa, has a base in Amsterdam and a primary listing in Frankfurt, said on Monday it wasn’t able to release audited full-year financial results on Wednesday due to matters related to a criminal and tax investigation in Germany.

It had previously rejected allegations made in a Manager-Magazin report that Jooste is among employees being investigated by German prosecutors in a 2015 case linked to possible accounting fraud.

Steinhoff shares have slumped 18% over the past two days, the most since the Frankfurt listing in December 2015. The company has transformed itself in the past four years from a mostly African-focused retailer to an acquisitive powerhouse that now owns Mattress Firm in the US and Poundland in the UK.

Wiese is South Africa’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of $4.3bn (about R58bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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