S.African listed Steinhoff shares tumble after release of 2017 results

JOHANNESBURG May 9 (Reuters) - Johannesburg-listed shares of South African retailer Steinhoff fell almost 20 percent on Thursday after the scandal-hit firm reported a $4 billion operating loss in the 2017 fiscal year in a much-delayed earnings report.

Steinhoff, which is also listed in Frankfurt, released the report in the early hours of Wednesday morning when South African markets were closed due to a general election.

The firm had delayed the results, which revealed the impact of a $7.4 billion accounting fraud, after finding holes in its accounts, shocking investors who had backed its reinvention from small South African furniture outfit into a discount furniture retailer straddling four continents.

By 0830 GMT, Steinhoff’s South African listed shares were down 16.42 percent at 1.68 rand ($0.1167) after falling more than 19 percent in early trade.

“It was always going to be a disaster there,” said Mark Loubser, portfolio manager at Independent Securities.

The company’s Frankfurt listed shares fell 14 percent on Wednesday and were down a further 8.5 percent on Thursday.

Steinhoff said in December 2017 it had uncovered accounting irregularities, erasing about 85 percent of its market value and throwing it into a liquidity crisis. ($1 = 14.3988 rand) (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)