Steinhoff investor Wiese sells part of Shoprite stake

This comes after Christo Wiese's exposure to scandal-hit retailer Steinhoff dented his fortune.

Christo Wiese. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - South African investor Christo Wiese has sold an additional R1.1 billion of shares in supermarket group Shoprite, exchange filings showed on Thursday, after his exposure to scandal-hit retailer Steinhoff dented his fortune.

More than $14 billion of shareholder value has been wiped off Steinhoff over the last three weeks after the owner of Mattress Firm and Conforama discovered what it called accounting irregularities and parted company with its chief executive.

The 90% collapse hit Wiese’s wealth - estimated by Forbes magazine to have dropped to below $1 billion - the hardest as he is the largest Steinhoff shareholder with a stake of about 20%.

Exchange filings showed Wiese sold 5 million shares at an average price of R221.5 each in Shoprite, a R128 billion company in which he owns about 17% stake and is chairman.

That brings the money he has raised since 14 December from the sale of Shoprite stock to R3.3 billion. It is unclear what he would be using the money for and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wiese borrowed €1.6 billion to buy additional Steinhoff shares in September 2016, pledging €3.2 billion of his existing holding as security to the investment banks that lent the money.

Shares in Steinhoff dropped a further 11% on Thursday, extending the decline to the second day after the company said some lenders have started restricting access to credit lines.

Wiese was one of the early directors of a budget retailer Pepkor, which was co-founded by his parents in 1960 in Upington on the southern edges of the Kalahari desert.

He is best known for transforming Shoprite from just six shops in the 1970s to hundreds of stores across Africa.