Steinhoff’s overseas business restructures debt after scandal

Steinhoff CEO Louis du Preez says the company remains committed to improving performance. (Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2019

Steinhoff’s overseas business restructures debt after scandal

  • A CVA is a UK legal process that allows a company with debt problems to reach a voluntary agreement with creditors over the payment of its debts while continuing to trade

JOHANNESBURG: Scandal-hit Steinhoff said it had refinanced some €9 billion ($10 billion) of debt in its overseas operations which include brands such as Poundland in the UK and France’s Conforama, after pushing the deadline date back repeatedly.

“Implementation of the restructuring is a major milestone on our recovery journey, bringing with it the stability that will allow us to turn the page and concentrate fully on maximising value from our operating companies,” Group Chief Executive Louis du Preez said in a statement.

“The company remains committed to improving the performance of its operational businesses across the group, reducing its debt, resolving the legal claims against it and delivering value for its stakeholders.”

Du Preez on Tuesday delivered a stark assessment of Steinhoff’s options at the South African company's first public investor presentation since a $7 billion accounting fraud scandal broke, saying its only hope for survival is to sell off assets to become a retail-focused holding company.

Shares in Steinhoff jumped 4.84 percent to 1.30 rand in early trading.

Established more than 50 years ago, the firm expanded from a small South African outfit to a furniture and household goods retailer straddling four continents before it shocked investors by flagging holes in its accounts in 2017.

Its Steinhoff Europe AG (SEAG) and Steinhoff Finance Holding GmbH (SFHG) operations had entered into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with its creditors last year.

SEAG’s €5.6 billion of debt, plus around €2.8 billion from SFHG and a further €400,000 from another business has been reissued with maturities from Dec. 2021 and no cash interest payments.

The company is now up to date with its financial reporting and expects to publish an unaudited quarterly update for the three months ended June 30 2019 on August 29, it said on Wednesday.


Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2019

Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

  • Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers

WASHINGTON: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the US government will extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, even as nearly 50 of its units were being added to a US economic blacklist.
The “temporary general license,” due to expire on Monday, will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, he told Fox Business Network Monday, confirming an expected decision first reported Friday by Reuters. He also said he was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, raising the total number to more than 100 Huawei entities that are covered by the restrictions.
Ross said the extension was to aid US customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
“We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Ross said.
Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers.
The extension, through Nov. 19, renews an agreement continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
Asked what will happen in November to US companies, Ross said: “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it, there have been plenty of discussions with the president.”
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying US goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the Sino-US trade war.
The US government blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

BACKGROUND

The US blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

As an example, the blacklisting order cited a pending federal criminal case concerning allegations Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.

The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts.”
At the same time the US says Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more. He said on Monday that there were no “specific licenses being granted for anything.”