Shares in Poundland, Benson for Beds and Harveys owner crash

Shares in Poundland, Benson for Beds and Harveys owner crash

Steinhoff advised its shareholders and other investors to "exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the group", but a panicked sell-off has already caused the business's market cap to more than halve.

Investors also told Reuters they are concerned Wiese may be forced to sell shares he bought previous year with borrowed money, which would depress Steinhoff's stock further.

The share price of KAP Industrial, the former manufacturing arm of Steinhoff, fell 14% to R7.45. The board has also approached auditor PWC to investigate allegations of irregular accounting practices.

Steinhoff International's long-standing chief executive has resigned.

The company said (http://www.steinhoffinternational.com/downloads/2017/Announcement%205%20Dec%202017%20JSE.pdf) "new information has come to light today which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation".

Steinhoff said its chairman and largest shareholder Christo Wiese would take temporary charge while a successor to Mr Jooste was identified.

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"In light of these developments at Steinhoff, STAR's existing CEO, Ben la Grange has made a decision to step down as CEO of STAR", the company said.

Jooste, who had been with Steinhoff since 1988 and was CEO of Steinhoff International since 2000, was credited with growing the South African furniture manufacturer and retailer into Europe's second-largest player, behind Ikea, via a string of acquisitions including France's Conforama chain.

Steinhoff said it would release its 2017 figures "when it is in a position to do so". The company added it also needs to determine if any financial statements from previous years need to be restated.

While the company has been under investigation for suspected accounting irregularities by a state prosecutor in Germany since 2015, it is not clear if these are the accounting irregularities the company was referring to in its statement. Theodore de Klerk was appointed as his replacement, PSG said on Wednesday.

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

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