Steinhoff International Holdings NV assembled a crisis team of insiders to try to rescue the global retailer amid a crunch meeting with bankers that may determine the company’s future.
Chief Operating Officer Danie van der Merwe is the new interim chief executive officer of the owner of Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Poundland in the U.K., replacing Markus Jooste, who quit after the company reported accounting irregularities two weeks ago. Alexandre Nodale, CEO of Steinhoff-owned French furniture chain Conforama, has been appointed deputy CEO, Steinhoff said in a statement Tuesday.
The duo’s immediate challenge will be to convince lenders to support the company, which suffered a share price collapse after revealing the accounting issues. Steinhoff executives were due to meet with bankers in London on Tuesday. Der Merwe and Nodale will be joined by Chief Financial Officer Ben La Grange on a four-member management board alongside Louis du Preez, a corporate lawyer named as new commercial director.
The appointments mark the latest in a series of reshuffles at Steinhoff after the company lost 80 percent of its market value two weeks ago. On Dec. 8, it said three non-executives would form a new sub-committee to oversee governance, including Steve Booysen, who was already head of the audit and risk committee. Billionaire Chairman Christo Wiese joined Jooste in exiting the company on Friday. He was replaced on an acting basis by Heather Sonn.
Whether the management changes will convince South African and global lenders including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., HSBC Holdings Plc and BNP Paribas SA remains to be seen. Steinhoff said Monday it would provide an update on the financial situation after the banker meeting. The company had total liabilities of almost 18 billion euros ($21 billion) as of the end of March.
The shares traded 10 percent higher at 0.64 euros as of 12:44 p.m. in Frankfurt, where the company moved its primary listing from Johannesburg two years ago amid a breakneck expansion.
Steinhoff is under investigation by South African regulators and is due to defend lawsuits in three countries filed by a former business partner. The company has said financial results for the last two years need to be restated, and has earmarked billions of euros of assets for potential disposal.