Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Steinhoff shares plunge 66% as CEO quits amid accounting scandal

Steinhoff shares plunge 66% as CEO quits amid accounting scandal

It has revealed its veteran chief executive, Markus Jooste, "has tendered his resignation with immediate effect and the board has accepted the resignation".

The retailer, which has origins in South Africa, has a base in Amsterdam and a primary listing in Frankfurt, said Monday it wasn't able to release audited full-year financial results on Wednesday due to matters related to a criminal and tax investigation in Germany.

SHARES in Poundland owner Steinhoff International fell by 60 per cent this morning after the company announced an investigation into account irregularities.

Steinhoff also said that it was advising its shareholders and other investors to exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the company.

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Steinhoff's biggest shareholder and chairman, the billionaire Christo Wiese, has taken over as executive chairman temporarily.

Steinhoff is a sprawling corporation which operates approximately 12,000 retail outlets across 30 countries.

As well as Poundland it also owns Benson for Beds, Harveys Furniture and Pep&Co in the UK.

It bought Poundland previous year and has introduced its Pep&Co budget clothing brand into scores of stores.

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The company said its Supervisory Board, akin to a board of directors for US -based companies, has hired the accounting firm PWC to conduct an independent investigation of its finances.

It had previously rejected allegations made in a Manager-Magazin report that Jooste is among employees being investigated by German prosecutors in a 2015 case linked to possible accounting fraud.

He will be advised by Pieter Erasmus, the former chief executive of Steinhoff subsidiary Pepkor Group, in overseeing the retail portfolio.

It is not clear if these are the accounting irregularities Steinhoff is referring to in its latest statement.

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