Steinhoff said to consider sale of multi-billion rand Conforama properties

Steinhoff International [JSE:SNH] is considering the sale of properties within French furniture chain Conforama, the latest move by the embattled retailer to shore up its balance sheet, according to people familiar with the matter.

The value of the portfolio is about €800m (R13.4bn), said the sources, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public. The properties are held outside European real-estate subsidiary Hemisphere, which is disposing of assets as part of a debt-restructuring deal, they said.

A spokesperson for Steinhoff declined to comment.

The move would represent the latest fund-raising effort by the retailer, which has been battling for survival since announcing accounting irregularities in December that wiped more than 96% off the share price. Earlier disposals include Austrian furniture retailer Rudolf Leiner GmbH and associated real estate assets, while Steinhoff has also sold down stakes in firms such as Pepkor and KAP Industrial.

Conforama has about 300 stores, of which two thirds are in France, according to Steinhoff’s most recent presentation to lenders. In January, the unit secured a €115m, three-year credit facility from Tikehau Capital, securing the firm’s financial independence less than two months after the crisis erupted.

Steinhoff won support from a majority of creditors in July to restructure its €9.4bn of debt, stabilising its finances. That included an agreement to refinance a €750m revolving bridge facility at Hemisphere, on condition that an asset disposal plan was set up.

Steinhoff said on Wednesday that sale of property related to Kika-Leiner has reduced the value of the Hemisphere portfolio to about €324bn. In April, the division was revalued at about €1.1bn, half the previous book amount.

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