Steinhoff Repays Over $2-Billion of its Debt in Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Scandal-hit South African retailer Steinhoff has repaid about 2 billion euros ($2.34 billion) of its debt in Africa after its local unit used the proceeds of a fundraising to pay back 16 billion rand ($1.26 billion) in shareholder loans.

A Poundland employee checks products in a store in London, Britain November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

The retailer has been fighting for survival after it discovered accounting irregularities in December which sparked a sell-off in its shares that wiped more than $10 billion off its stock market value and led to multiple investigations globally.

Accordingly, the group has repaid approximately 2 billion euros of African debt since January 2018, it said in a statement.

“Save for working capital facilities of the automotive business and the African properties division, the group has no remaining African debt,” it added.

Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) raised the 16 billion rand from South African financial institutions to repay the loan which was provided by Steinhoff as part of STAR’s listing in September 2017.

STAR raised an additional 2 billion rand which it said on Wednesday will be used for its operations.

Steinhoff, which runs chains such as Britain’s Poundland, Mattress Firm in the United States and Conforama in France, said on May 10 it hoped to have a restructuring plan in place shortly to put to creditors that would include measures such as fixing the maturity for all loans at three years from the restructuring date.

Steinhoff still has about 8.7 billion euros of debt attributable to Europe and 25 million euros to the U.S. operations.

Yesterday it was revealed that Parliament is issuing former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste with summons to appear before Parliament.

($1 = 12.6725 rand) ($1 = 0.8535 euros)

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Louise Heavens)