Steinhoff's former CEO Markus Jooste. Picture: RAYMOND PRESTON/SUNDAY TIMES
Steinhoff's former CEO Markus Jooste. Picture: RAYMOND PRESTON/SUNDAY TIMES

Steinhoff International Holdings’ former CEO Markus Jooste has put a plot on a luxury estate up for sale, asking R4.5m more for the property than the embattled businessman paid for it two years ago.

Jooste bought 978 at Val de Vie, a sprawling Western Cape residence with vineyards and space for 10 horses, for R10.5m and is trying to sell it for R15m, according to the Val de Vie’s interactive sales map. He bought the estate in December 2015, the same month the global retailer moved its main listing to Frankfurt from Johannesburg, the state registry shows.

The sale indicates that Jooste is trying to raise cash following his resignation from Steinhoff at the start of an accounting scandal six weeks ago. Mayfair Speculators, of which he was, until recently, a director, sold champion racehorse Legal Eagle last month, according to the Sporting Post. Jooste is a known horse racing fanatic, and Val de Vie is an equestrian estate that’s hosted Prince Harry for polo matches. Adding to its celebrity credentials, it also uses South African Olympic swimming champion Ryk Neethling for marketing.

Steinhoff shares have lost almost 90% of their value since the owner of Mattress Firm in the US and Conforama in France said on December 5 it had uncovered accounting irregularities. Billionaire chairperson Christo Wiese has quit alongside Jooste, and the company has been in emergency talks with lenders to continue operating as a going concern. Neither have spoken publicly about what went wrong at the company.

"It must be a liquidity issue," Petri Redelinghuys, founder of Herenya Capital Advisors, said by phone. "You need to have that liquidity whether it be for the business, or for legal fees or just to keep everything ticking over." Jooste didn’t respond to a cellphone message seeking comment.

Jooste isn’t the only one frantically trying to raise cash. Wiese, Steinhoff’s largest shareholder, has seen his net worth cut by more than half and has had to sell shares in another company he’s linked to for R4.2bn.

Steinhoff has sold a stake in investment holding company PSG Group, raising about $345m, while other disposals included a 17% stake in French online retailer Showroomprivé and a flagship store in Vienna for a combined €139m. The company’s luxury Gulfstream 550 jet, valued at about $25m, has also been put up for sale.

Bloomberg

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