🔒 Boardroom Talk: Christo Wiese classics – memorable quotes from billionaire who was played for a fool

Thanks for the feedback on yesterday’s newsletter about the WSJ relationship terminating at the end of the month. With only a few exceptions, tribe members fully appreciate the priority to efficiently allocate our resources.

Christo Wiese was peerless in this respect until his seduction by Markus Jooste, star of Steinheist, whose staggered release concluded yesterday. The full three hours are now available for binge-watching on Showmax. The producers pulled some memorable Wiese quotes. Here they are:

On whether he knows how wealthy he is, within the closest billion
I have no idea because my experience has been that generally people who know how much they’re worth are not worth a hell of a lot.


On getting rich vs staying rich
There’s getting rich… Easy. Staying rich? Much more difficult.

On his reaction to the Steinhoff crash
When I looked myself in the mirror after the terrible news from Steinhoff, I decided I will have to find clear guideposts to get through this one. Number one: I don’t mourn the loss of money, because money you make, you can lose and you can try to make again. Secondly, I count my blessings. And thirdly, I’m not going to become a bitter person, because nobody wants bitter people around them.

On owning wine farms, and selling Lanzerac to Markus Jooste for Steinhoff shares
I always tell people, one wine estate is one too many… To have two is close to a nightmare.

On Markus Jooste’s alleged affair
​I don’t want to sound like a goody two-shoes, but that’s a no-no… For a CEO to have an affair known to his subordinates is a no-no. I fired at least two senior executives because of that. Because you lose the trust of the people that report to you. If he could lie to his wife of 40 odd years every day, why wouldn’t he lie to me? You know that can’t be tolerated. 

On the aftermath of the tax raid before Steinhoff’s listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange
​​When that raid happened, the board of Steinhoff appointed one of the largest forensic investigator firms in Germany to interrogate every one of the allegations made. They still gave me a report, and the board, that it’s all nonsense: Jooste’s version is the truth… Again, the Jooste black magic… It’s the only explanation. Because these people had never done business with Steinhoff. There was no relationship.

On being told by Deloitte that Steinhoff’s management had been defrauding the company for years
I said, ‘But you guys are crazy. What are you talking about?’ And they gave me their six points that they queried, and I looked at it. I said, ‘But you signed off on all these points last year, and for the previous 15 years. Where does this come from?’.

On confronting Markus Jooste after the meeting with Deloitte
I said, ‘These people say you are a fraud and a crook.’ And he said, ‘On what basis?’ I said, ‘Well, you know, these six points.’ He gave the auditors such an explanation in half an hour, that they changed their entire tone. And he said he’s going to Germany, he will return on Monday, and he will satisfy them. He will clear everything up… 

On whether he sees Steinhoff as the biggest mistake of his otherwise stellar career
It is the biggest mistake by a country mile… What it cost me in monetary terms, but what it cost also in reputational terms, it’s by a country mile the biggest mistake. 

On Markus Jooste
Obviously, he is a very, very smart operator, and with nerves of steel. How do you do this for 15 years? And you have to get through all these gatekeepers? This isn’t a normal person. You’ve got to be an artist, knowing every button to push with every person.

On what the Steinhoff board should have done differently
​​There is no fool proof protection against a CEO who is a crook.

More for you to read today: 

Alan Pullinger, CEO of FirstRand, shares the message of realistic optimism he gave global investors
Investors in banking stocks ask first about the prospects of the country where the institution operates, then about the company itself. Having just arrived back home from a post-results roadshow to US and UK investors, FirstRand CEO Alan Pullinger has been thinking a lot about their questions around the likely future for the SA economy. His conclusions – positive results of economic reforms; optimism about the country’s latent potential – may come as a surprise for many of his fellow citizens. Rational, insightful and balanced, Pullinger delivers hope without varnishing reality. He spoke to Alec Hogg at BizNews.


As a Premium subscriber you are entitled to full membership of wsj.com (normal price $29 a month). Be sure to action your access through the Premium link on the BizNews website. Because of The Wall Street Journal’s credential requirements, be sure to create a password which has at least 8 characters and includes at least one letter and one number – NB it MAY NOT contain any special characters (ie #, !, @ etc). To maintain access to WSJ.com, you MUST enter our partner’s website via BizNews Premium at least once a month. A final PS, if you had previously signed up for WSJ you’ll need to clear the cookies from your device. Our helpdesk can assist –[email protected].

Visited 148 times, 2 visit(s) today