February 11, 2018 / 12:05 PM / a month ago

South Africa's Wiese slashes stake in Steinhoff to 6.2 pct

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 6 (Reuters) - South African tycoon Christo Wiese has cut his stake in retailer Steinhoff International , which has been embroiled in an accounting scandal, to 6.2 percent, regulatory filings show.

Wiese, who stepped down as chairman of Steinhoff in December, had been the top shareholder in the company which is fighting for survival after it discovered what it called accounting irregularities, sparking a selling frenzy that wiped off more than $10 billion of shareholder value.

Wiese has slashed his stake from around 21 percent to 6.2 percent, filings posted on the Netherlands’ Authority for Financial Markets website showed.

Wiese was instrumental in transforming Steinhoff from a small furniture outfit into a retail empire of more than 40 brands that include Conforama in France, Poundland in Britain and Mattress Firm in United States.

Steinhoff, which delayed its 2017 earnings report, has said problems in its books stretch back to at least 2015. It has asked auditing firm PwC to investigate.

Separately, the company has been under investigation for suspected accounting fraud in Germany since 2015. It has previously said that the investigation related to whether revenues were booked properly, and whether taxable profits were correctly declared. (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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