The recent Steinhoff accounting irregularities saga that led to the demise of one of the jewels of Africa has lifted a corporate veil on the extent to which companies have embraced corporate governance principles and the effect the board structure has on the value of a company. Steinhoff’s primary listing in Frankfurt and registered head office in Amsterdam enabled the company to use the Dutch Corporate Governance Codes. The company has a two-tier board structure comprised of management and supervisory boards, in line with these codes. This board structure in not used in other markets such as the US, UK and SA. The preferred structure in these markets is a unitary board system, where all board members are elected at one time. The two-tier board structure Steinhoff adopted is not consistent with the recommendations of the King Code on Corporate Governance, which strongly advocates a unitary board structure, to the extent that in the recently published King IV Codes, the reference to ...

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