Rob Rose Editor: Financial Mail

Trade unionist turned businessman Jayendra Naidoo says something terrifying about his company’s ill-fated investment in Steinhoff. "You do reflect and try to think of the lessons you can take from this, what signs you might have missed so that it doesn’t happen again. The problem is, we didn’t see any signs at an earlier stage that made us doubt anything. There were no warning signs." It’s scary because it suggests that given the same set of circumstances, Steinhoff could happen again. Naidoo’s company Lancaster 101, and so many others, could end up here again. What happened is that back in 2016, Lancaster borrowed R9.3bn from the Public Investment Corp (PIC) to buy 2.75% of Steinhoff. Luckily, a few months later in mid-July 2017, the deal was restructured and Lancaster’s stake in Steinhoff dropped to 1.2%, while it took 8.8% of Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star). (As it turns out, the PIC badly messed up its exposure to Steinhoff, leading it to write off R5bn of the loan to Lancaster.)...

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