Poundland owner Steinhoff sees its shares crash by 60%

Poundland owner Steinhoff sees its shares crash by 60%

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

SHARES in Poundland owner Steinhoff International fell by 60 per cent this morning after the company announced an investigation into account irregularities. The board has also approached auditor PWC to investigate allegations of irregular accounting practices.

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

Steinhoff will publish its audited 2017 financial statements later, the company said, without specifying a date.

Steinhoff's chairman, retail tycoon Christo Wiese, alongside former Pepkor CEO Pieter Erasmus, will run Steinhoff until a new CEO is appointed, a statement issued at 10.45pm on Tuesday night 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.

Shareholders and other investors in Steinhoff are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the Group.

As well as furniture and homeware, it also sells products including clothing, footwear and consumer goods.

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

JSE-listed African retail subsidiary Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) announced on Wednesday that it was "unaffected by the events at [JSE-listed retail multinational] Steinhoff".

Steinhoff will update the market as the aforesaid investigation proceeds.

While the nature of its accounting investigation was not disclosed, it had already been known that it was facing a tax probe in Germany.

It is unclear what accounting irregularities the company was referring to in its statement.