Johan van Zyl steps down from Steinhoff board ahead of AGM

Johan van Zyl. (Steinhoff website)
Johan van Zyl. (Steinhoff website)

Cape Town – Johan van Zyl, a member of Steinhoff’s [JSE:SNH] supervisory board, has stepped down just days before the global retail group’s annual general meeting.

According to a notice issued to shareholders on Wednesday afternoon, Van Zyl withdrew his candidacy for re-election to the Steinhoff supervisory board, even though he had sufficient support.

The elections are set to take place at the conglomerate's annual AGM at the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Centre in the Netherlands on Friday. 

Van Zyl, the former group CEO of Sanlam, resigned from his Steinhoff position with immediate effect

“My decision to resign before the AGM is the result of the company now building for the future, confidence following the board meeting with the Supervisory Board nominees in attendance and the fact that the Independent Committee, which I chair, has finished its work and is no longer required with the imminent appointment of the new board members," he said in a statement.

“I have thus completed my assignment on the board and fulfilled my commitment to major shareholders of the company."

Van Zyl said he initially wanted to resign from the supervisory board in December 2017, but there was a need for him to chair the independent committee and provide leadership during the group’s initial liquidity crisis after CEO Markus Jooste and other “prominent” supervisory board members left the company. 

The other two members of the independent committee are Steve Booysen and acting chair of the supervisory board Heather Sonn. 

"We worked closely to pull the company through its initial crisis," said Van Zyl. "I have come to appreciate their courage, competence and commitment to doing the right thing in the interest of the company under difficult circumstances."

Steinhoff acting CEO Danie van der Merwe said Van Zyl had provided an "invaluable contribution" and put in "unselfish hours and effort during the crisis period to help the group to survive. His clear directives and wisdom will be missed”.

The group's share price opened at R2.35 on Wednesday morning, and was trading 7.30% stronger at R2.50 by 15:25.

Steinhoff stocks have fallen by over 90% since Jooste stepped down in early December, wiping out roughly R200bn from the group's market capitalisation. 

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