Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Steinhoff shares fell sharply on Monday, suggesting that investors drew little to no comfort from their latest interaction with management, in an attempt to get some answers to the accounting scandal that came to light in December.

The value of the shares had plunged 15% to R2.21 by late trade on the JSE, giving Steinhoff a market value of about R9.6bn. Barely five months ago, its market capitalisation stood at R196.73bn.

On Friday, the South African company held its AGM in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where investors were updated about the state of the company’s operations.

Steinhoff, which employs about 130,000 people spread across 30 countries, said it was able to secure short-term liquidity to keep its operations running, but its financial position remained "challenged".

As part of stopgap measures to ensure working capital, the company has sold down shares in PSG Group, KAP industrial Holdings and Steinhoff Retail Africa. It was also able to tap into a €750m loan secured through its property portfolio.

"If you are a shareholder, there are two points that you need to know. The first is that the PwC report is expected only toward the end of this year. So, basically, question marks are going to hover over the company until at least then," Vestact Asset Management analysts said in a note to clients.

"The second thing to note is that management is going to propose a restructuring plan to creditors and then shareholders in the next month. The new [chief financial officer] described things as ‘delicate’; the company has a mountain of debt and far fewer assets than they thought."

Total debt as of March 31 stood at €10.4bn, according to figures contained its AGM report.

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