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In early January 2018, Steinhoff’s commercial director Louis du Preez was on a charm offensive in London, trying to convince the retailer’s bankers not to pull the plug.

It was a desperate time. Weeks before, Steinhoff had admitted to "accounting irregularities" on the same day that its CEO, Markus Jooste, had offered his resignation to the board (remotely, of course, while sitting a few kilometres away on the Lanzerac wine farm)...

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