Shares in Poundland owner crash as CEO quits amid accounting probe

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Steinhoff International CEO Marcus Jooste resigned on Tuesday night, and the release of the company's full-year results - originally scheduled for Wednesday - has been delayed indefinitely.

Steinhoff bought the Willenhall-based chain of discount stores for £610 million previous year.

SHARES in Poundland owner Steinhoff International fell by 60 per cent this morning after the company announced an investigation into account irregularities.

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".

The owner of the France-based Conforama furniture store chain and Pep clothing stores in Africa has appointed auditor PwC to probe the matter, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The company had been expected to release its results for the year ended September 30 on Wednesday, but said it would now publish results when it was in a position to do so. "In addition, the Company will determine whether any prior years" financial statements will need to be restated'.

Steinhoff also said that it was advising its shareholders and other investors to exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the company.

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It put Christo Wiese, its largest shareholder and chairman, in charge and later sought to give "additional comfort" to investors anxious about its ability to fund its existing operations, saying it had ‍identified measures that would give it around 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of additional liquidity.

It bought Poundland a year ago and has introduced its Pep&Co budget clothing brand into scores of stores.

Steinhoff said it will update the market as the investigation proceeds and added that it will publish its audited 2017 consolidated financial statements "when it is in a position to do so".

The JSE's director of issuer regulation John Burke told Reuters the bourse was in talks with Steinhoff to get answers on the investigation of possible accounting irregularities.

Steinhoff's African businesses include a range of credit-based household goods retailers and the company also has extensive interests in Europe.

It is not now clear what "accounting irregularities" the company is referring to in its statement.

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