Steinhoff investor losses not our fault, Absa says
Absa’s mandate did not include compiling or reviewing the financial statements of Steinhoff SA, says Phumza Macanda
Absa has denied it has any responsibility for losses suffered by investors in Steinhoff.
In a statement in response to action by VEB, the Dutch Investors’ Association, Phumza Macanda, head of media relations at Absa, said on Thursday that Absa was the JSE transaction sponsor to Steinhoff and that the bank’s role "was limited to ensuring that the JSE’s listing rules were complied with by Steinhoff SA".
Macanda said Absa’s mandate did not include compiling or reviewing the financial statements of Steinhoff SA or any other Steinhoff company, and that Absa disputes VEB’s claims.
On Wednesday, VEB announced that it had notified the three banks involved in Steinhoff’s Frankfurt listing that it was holding them liable for damages incurred by Steinhoff shareholders. VEB’s action is also directed at Commerzbank and Barclays.
VEB said the prospectuses issued by the banks ahead of the listing were misleading.
"VEB questions whether the prospectuses properly represented Steinhoff’s financial position at the time. We believe the banks acted wrongfully in respect of Steinhoff shareholders," VEB said on Wednesday.
VEB has invited the three banks to consult with it about an amicable settlement, failing which VEB may file a class action lawsuit under Dutch process law against the banks.
VEB has also launched a class action against Steinhoff. Its representatives will be attending Steinhoff’s annual general meeting in Amsterdam on Friday. Armand Kersten, head of European relations at VEB, said they were hoping to get information about the materiality of the problems at Steinhoff.
"We are steadily confronted with new and more staggering media stories about the company but so far it has not provided us with the information we need to vote on an informed basis."