It was a dark and stormy weekend in Cape Town. Perhaps if it had stopped raining for more than 10 minutes I would have found something better to do — something more uplifting. But that wasn’t to be. And so, last weekend, I spent more hours than I care to admit reading Steinhoff’s half-year report. Occasionally, during those hours, I was studying the figures intently, but for much of the time I was staring at them in shocked disbelief, much as one does when one comes across an accident scene: afraid to look too closely because of all the blood and gore. There’s little doubt that Steinhoff has followed its mould-breaking AGM with a half-year report that is unlikely ever to be matched. As with the AGM, the key parties behind the half-year report made the best of an appallingly difficult situation. At the AGM in April, chair Heather Sonn and commercial director Louis du Preez helped to give shareholders the sense that the sinking ship was in good hands and, better, that if they couldn’t...

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