Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

Steinhoff International Holdings is seeking another extension to restructure almost $12bn of debt as the retailer strives to keep shop doors open and increase the value of some of its assets.

The South African retailer will probably miss a June 30 deadline for agreeing to a debt deal, the owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US said in its 2018 annual report published late on Tuesday. Steinhoff needs time to prepare some divisions for an eventual sale that will enable it to repay creditors, the company said.

The way the debt restructuring has been put together “is to avoid fire sales and to rather give the company a few years to run the business and see what value it can get,” Charles Allen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said  on Wednesday.

Alongside the annual report, Steinhoff published its second set of full-year audited earnings in as many months. While the company reduced its loss by 70% to €1.2bn in the year through September, that was not  enough to appease investors.

The shares slumped 6.1% as of 1.38pm in Frankfurt on Wednesday, extending the loss since the start of the crisis to 97%. The yield on the €800m of bonds due January 2025 was little changed.

Steinhoff’s payment-in-kind interest payments of about 10% on the €10.4bn of gross debt means “equity holders are unlikely to even receive crumbs”, Allen said.

Steinhoff has already sold several assets since the eruption of an accounting crisis more than 18 months ago, including Austrian furniture retailer Rudolf Leiner and stakes in Pepkor Holdings  and KAP Industrial Holdings. The disposals served to help shore up the company’s balance sheet as it sought to stay afloat.

Steinhoff’s assets were valued at €16.4bn  as of September, compared with €17.5bn the previous year, the company said in a presentation on its website. The retailer had previously made €15.3bn of writedowns because of accounting irregularities, as former management led by ex-CEO Markus Jooste allegedly oversaw a series of related-party transactions that inflated profit and asset values.

In addition to the debt restructuring, Steinhoff is keeping a tight grip on spending to help strengthen its cash position. Sales in 2019 are expected to drop because of further asset disposals, more competition and a weak trading environment.

“Still, it’s quite an achievement to have kept the various businesses going and to have received proceeds for selling some of its loss-making units,” Allen said.

With assistance from Colleen Goko

Bloomberg