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Battered Steinhoff shares bounce back after traumatic week

Shares in South African retailer Steinhoff jumped as much as 40% on Monday.

Billionaire Christo Wiese. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Shares in South African retailer Steinhoff jumped as much as 40% on Monday, regaining some ground after calling on its lenders to help stabilise the company following the discovery of accounting irregularities last week.

Steinhoff has hired US investment bank Moelis & Co to advise it and asked management consultancy AlixPartners “to assist on liquidity management and operational measures”.

“The group is asking for and requires continued support in relation to existing facilities from all its lenders to achieve an immediate stabilisation of the group’s financing,” Steinhoff said in a statement late on Sunday.

The company has delayed its regular annual lenders’ meeting in London from 11-19 December having last week postponed its financial results.

By 0822 GMT, the stock was up 40% at R8.39 in Johannesburg, recouping some of the $14 billion of shareholder value wiped off since last Wednesday when it ordered an investigation into its accounts and said it had parted ways with its veteran chief executive.

Steinhoff has its main listing in Frankfurt where its shares rose more than 18%.

There was some buying of the stock off a low base, but most investors were waiting for more information, said Independent Securities trader Ryan Woods.

“On the positive side, it does look like Christo Wiese is doing a salvage job,” Woods added, referring to the retail group’s biggest shareholder and its chairman, who is temporarily at the helm.

Wiese and former chief executive Markus Jooste were instrumental in reinventing Steinhoff, turning it from a modest distributor of furniture made in communist era eastern Europe to a global household goods juggernaut, vying for market share with the likes of IKEA.

Steinhoff has been on a shopping spree since 2011 when it took over French furniture retailer Conforama. Last year’s string of acquisitions included Mattress Firm and Poundland, thrusting it firmly on to investors’ radar screens.

Separately, Anglo-South African investment bank and asset manager Investec said its credit exposure to Steinhoff represented a small portion of its balance sheet.

Investec said it had derivative exposures linked to the Steinhoff share price, where a trading loss could materialise.

The loss maximum potential loss could be approximately 3% of the Investec group’s post-tax operating profit, although it could be as low as zero.

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