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Steinhoff settlements hang in balance as dispute with Wiese lenders continues

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Steinhoff offices in Stellenbosch.
Steinhoff offices in Stellenbosch.
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Embattled retail group Steinhoff International's plans on settling about 90 shareholder claims after its near collapse almost three years ago may have hit a snag as a separate legal battle against one of its largest shareholders threatens chances of a deal.

Steinhoff has had to deal with the repercussions of the 2017 accounting fraud scandal, that resulted in the company’s share price plunging more than 90% and erstwhile CEO Markus Jooste, being fined for insider trading. The group has committed to a R16.5 billion, made up of cash and Pepkor shares settlement to the claimants and former Shoprite Chairperson Christo Wiese’s R59 billion claim against Steinhoff, makes up the bulk of the claims.

However, his claim has been the disputed by Conservatorium, a US-based company that is attempting to claw back €1.6 billion it alleges to be owed by Christo Wiese's companies. Conservatorium purchased the claiming rights for about R29.5 billion from a group of banks, such as HSBC, Citibank and Goldman Sachs, which had loaned Wiese the money to acquire 314 million Steinhoff shares in 2016.

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