Steinhoff raises possibility of negotiated settlements over share price plunge

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Steinhoff [JSE:SNH] has raised the possibility of negotiated settlements as it faces a number of class-action style lawsuits and litigation claims over the precipitous plunge in its share price. 

In an update to shareholders on Tuesday, the retail group said while it would continue defending claims which have been brought, "in principle the company would always consider whether there may be alternative approaches to concluding claims, such as negotiated settlements, if it is considered to be in the interests of the Company and its stakeholders."

Shares in the Stellenbosch-headquartered multinational fell in the wake of the abrupt resignation of its former CEO Markus Jooste in December 2017 as the group's auditors flagged accounting irregularities in its books, cutting its market capitalisation by about R200bn.

Steinhoff shares have lost over 90% of their value since Jooste stepped down. 

The group said on Tuesday it has requested that representatives of claimants disclose the identity of claimants and the size of their shareholdings or former shareholdings.

"The company wishes to emphasise that the fact that such requests have been made does not mean that negotiated settlements will eventually be agreed or are imminent," it said. 

In mid-March Steinhoff received the long-awaited final PwC forensic report into its finances. According to an 11-page overview of the report that Steinhoff published, it found a "small group" of former Steinhoff executives inflated the profit and asset values of the Steinhoff group for years.

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