ON THE MONEY
STUART THEOBALD: Distressed Steinhoff ripe for the picking — just what some private equity funds want
There is a large potential profit to be made by taking over the company and working to realise the value of assets
Steinhoff is shaping up to be an ideal target for a private equity takeout. The company is on its knees, severely damaged by scandal, and available at a steep discount to its admittedly shaky book value. A bolshie private equity firm could move on the company with a strategy of realising value out of its vast portfolio of operating assets while injecting the liquidity the company needs to keep the doors open. On Friday last week Steinhoff finally shed some light on how bad its accounting mess is. The main headline is that the company has taken a €10.9bn (R176bn) hit to its book value from writing off the value of assets and restating previous earnings. But even after that write-off, the company has an equity value of €3.8bn. It is now trading in Frankfurt at a total market capitalisation of €352m. If management has got its write-offs even vaguely right— and for now they are just best guesses — then there is a large potential profit to be made by taking over the company and working t...