Shares in Poundland, Benson for Beds and Harveys owner crash

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BRITAIN-EU-BREXIT-ECONOMY-RETAIL-CHRISTMAS

Shares in the owner of Poundland lost well over half of their value on Wednesday morning, after the South Africa-based company said it had launched an investigation into accounting irregularities and that the chief executive had unexpectedly tendered his resignation.

Shares in Poundland's parent firm Steinhoff International have lost nearly 60% of their value after its chief executive quit amid allegations of accounting irregularities.

The Supervisory Board of Steinhoff wishes to advise shareholders that new information has come to light today which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation.

A spokeswoman for Deloitte Accountants B.V., which signed off Steinhoff's 2016 results, declined immediate comment.

Reuters reported last month that Steinhoff did not tell investors about nearly $1 billion in transactions with a related company, despite laws that some experts say require it to do so.

The company had previously said authorities there were examining whether revenue was booked correctly and taxable profit correctly declared.

It is not clear if these are the accounting irregularities Steinhoff is referring to in its latest statement. A spokesman declined further comment and attempts by Reuters to contact Jooste were not successful.

Steinhoff is a sprawling corporation which operates approximately 12,000 retail outlets across 30 countries. A spokesman declined to say if Steinhoff was mulling asset sales but the company said, "Steinhoff has a number of high quality profitable businesses around the world".

Shares in the company, listed in South Africa and Germany, recovered slightly to stand about 52% down.

Kolb also raised the possibility that as chairman, Wiese's role could now come under scrutiny too.

Kepler Cheuvreux said the pending tax and accounting investigations "could show severe irregularities".

Shares were also down by 66 per cent on the German stock exchange.

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