Tekkie Town founders reach settlement agreement with Steinhoff

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A general view of a Tekkie Town store at Campus Square in Johannesburg.
A general view of a Tekkie Town store at Campus Square in Johannesburg.
Papi Morake/Gallo Images
  • The former owners of footwear retailer Tekkie Town have arrived at a settlement agreement with the Steinhoff Group. 
  • Steinhoff Africa Holdings would pay R500 million to Tekkie Town owner claimants in aggregate as well as 29.5 million Pepkor shares. 
  • The founder of Tekkie Town, Braam van Huyssteen, said proceeds of the settlement would enable the parties to amplify momentum towards a settlement.

The former owners of footwear retail company Tekkie Town have arrived at a settlement agreement with the Steinhoff Group, they said in a statement on Wednesday.

In terms of the settlement agreement, Steinhoff Africa Holdings will pay R500 million in aggregate to the former Tekkie Town owner claimants, and will deliver 29.5 million shares in Pepkor Holdings, subject to a lock-up of 180 calendar days following transfer.

In exchange, Steinhoff Africa Holdings will get control of all Steinhoff-related claims alleged by the former Tekkie Town owner claimants and related parties.  

This brings a contentious chapter in the Steinhoff saga closer to conclusion, following an earlier bid by the former Tekkie Town owners to have the retailer liquidated. According to Tekkie Town's former owners, they were duped into trading shares in their then-profitable business for shares in Steinhoff. 

Tekkie Town's former CEO, Bernard Mostert, previously told Fin24 that he and his fellow litigants wanted to have their business "restored", rather than receiving a payout under Steinhoff's global settlement proposal.

In September, Mostert also approached the Western Cape High Court in a bid to prevent a R25 billion settlement plan between Steinhoff and its claimants, saying that such a settlement would send a message that South Africa tolerated corporate immorality.

But now the former Tekkie Town owners say they are prepared to accept a settlement in the interests of moving forward with their new business.

Tekkie Town founder Braam van Huyssteen said an "increased focus" - without the distraction of litigation - coupled with the proceeds of the settlement, would be helpful. Van Huyssteen and Mostert started a new footwear chain in 2018, Mr Tekkie. 

"In little less than three years, we have grown from zero stores to more than 160 stores and 800 wholesale accounts. With the litigation handbrake dropped, we can ramp up this business tremendously and significantly add to the almost 1 000 jobs we have created since August 2018," said Van Huyssteen.

Van Huyssteen also said Tekkie Town's participation in the settlement would help South African class action participants to share in the settlement proceeds, addressing the losses they suffered due to the Steinhoff scandal.

"We hope that this landmark and historical litigation will pave the way for legislation that will not hobble the man on the street to successfully participate in recovery processes of this nature. To that end we respect Steinhoff's final position to accommodate this class of claimant in the Steinhoff Global settlement," Van Huyssteen said.

Mostert said having control of the Tekkie Town business restored to its former owners would be "the most logical and rational remedy".

"However, we have come to expect the unexpected. One such conclusion is that successful litigation and the return of control of the business would probably negatively impact the momentum that we enjoy in our current business.

"Our focus is now on moving forward and we take pride in the fact that we have built a successful business and are eager to do so for the second time," said Mostert.

Mostert said the former owners of Tekkie Town were "proud" that they delivered the business in good shape and that they wished Pepkor well taking it forward.

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