Former Tekkie Town owners launch urgent bid to liquidate Steinhoff

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  • Tekkie Town's former owners have launched a new legal bid against Steinhoff.
  • They oppose a R17 billion proposal to settle all legal claims against the company.
  • Instead, they want the Stellenbosch-headquartered retailer to be liquidated.

The former owners of footwear chain Tekkie Town have launched an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to liquidate Steinhoff.

In 2016, Tekkie Town's owners – including founder Braam van Huyssteen - sold their shares in the footwear retailer to Steinhoff for R3.2 billion. They then received shares in Steinhoff, which imploded mere months later after CEO Markus Jooste resigned and the first indications of accounting irregularities emerged.

Since then, they have launched various court cases over the years to get R1.86 billion back from Steinhoff, contending that they were “fraudulently induced” to conclude the contract in 2016.

The latest bid comes ahead of a vote next month on Steinhoff’s scheme to settle the roughly 100 legal claims it is facing. Steinhoff is offering R17 billion, to be split between all its claimants, to settle these claims in a single process without each matter having to be argued separately in court.

Fin24 previously reported that Tekkie Town claimants would receive around R110 million, which Tekkie Town's former CEO Bernard Mostert rejected as insufficient.

In the new court documents filed this week, they say that the scheme has been “calculated” to divest them of the claims they are pursuing "for no better than a meagre dividend”.

They claim that financial creditors will receive preferential treatment in the scheme, while they will lose the opportunity to obtain restitution. Instead, they now want Steinhoff to be liquidated, which they believe will give them a more equitable deal.

The former Tekkie Town owners are now seeking to have Steinhoff liquidated instead, and in their court documents claim that Steinhoff is unable to pay its debts, with its liabilities exceeding its assets . While the company is incorporated in the Netherlands, they say most of its business is in South Africa, and contend that South African liquidators will deal “effectively and immediately” with winding up the company, which owns a majority stake in Pepkor Holdings (the owner of Pep and Ackermans), among other assets.

The former Tekkie Town owners’ latest bid follows a legal blow against them. The ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal in October last year overturned a victory in 2018, when a court interdicted Tekkie Town's current owners (Pepkor) from selling it or diluting its shareholding while the restitution case was being heard. The SCA ruling of 2020 found that Pepkor could "deal with Tekkie Town as it wishes".

The latest matter will be heard on 24 May.

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