Offloading assets: Ex-Steinhoff boss Markus Jooste puts Val de Vie up for sale

EDINBURGH — Markus Jooste, former Steinhoff CEO, is disliked intensely by many of the people who have worked for him. With a reputation for being a nasty boss who could make even the most hardened feel tearful, he has put thousands of jobs in jeopardy by allegedly facilitating accounting crookery. The Steinhoff group, which has a presence in Africa, Europe, Australia and the US, is in trouble after German authorities announced a probe into irregularities in financial reports. The stock price has plummeted, hammering many South African investors because it was widely held in portfolios and funds. Jooste, meanwhile, has been ahead of the game, quietly placing assets out of reach of creditors before he was rumbled at Steinhoff. He has been a man of many secrets at work and in his private life. But he may be feeling the heat as his dirty deeds start to get the better of him and spill out into the open. BizNews can reveal that Markus Jooste has put a luxury Western Cape property on the market at a bargain price. – Jackie Cameron

By Thulasizwe Sithole

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, who resigned as a financial scandal erupted and pushed the global retail group to the brink of collapse, has put one of his luxury Western Cape properties on the market. It has been priced by Jooste for a quick sell.

This is the latest indication that Jooste, once believed to be one of Africa’s richest people, is starting to feel the heat as creditors scout around for funds.

Markus Jooste
Markus Jooste puts a luxury property on the market to free up some cash.

In December, the SA-published Sporting Post reported that Absa Bank had applied through the high court to put Jooste’s racing company, Mayfair Speculators, into liquidation – but Jooste was given time until the end of January to file a response.

His racing manager Derek Brugman told the UK thoroughbred magazine Racing Post: “We’ve now made an agreement with the financiers that we can continue racing and continue selling the horses.

“We’ve also been given time by the financiers to sell them in a structured manner over a period of time. We’re not in a fire-sale situation.”

Jooste’s company owed R226m (£13.4m/€15.1m) to Absa. An even bigger creditor is Sanlam which is owed R800m while Investec is owed R200m. All of the debt was secured by Steinhoff shares which have fallen far below their level at which they covered the loan.

Jooste, a married father of three, and his alleged friend, 34-year-old Berdine Odendaal, reportedly own several properties at Val de Vie estate in Paarl. Odendaal, a polo player and lady of leisure, has 10 properties registered in her name at Val de Vie but lives in Bantry Bay, according to the Huffington Post. Sources say there has been no sign of her lately at her Cape Town home and the cover over her white Ferrari is gathering dust.  

BizNews can confirm that Jooste is selling a prized 2.9 hectare (7 acre) property at Val de Vie. He is asking R15m for prize piece of land, which is considered a bargain for a property of that size and type in the prestigious estate.

Estate agency Cape Winelands Properties describes the real estate as “the last of the most exclusive properties in The Gentleman’s Estate at Val de Vie in the beautiful Paarl-Franschhoek Valley”.

“Steeped in luxury, set amidst nature, this magnificent farmland of 2,94 hectares is the space you will have the freedom and pleasure of calling home,” say the agents.

Markus Jooste
Markus Jooste and his close friend Berdine Odendaal own at least 10 Val de Vie properties similar to this one. His 2.9ha tract of open land is on the market for R15m.

Giving a taste of what life has been like for Markus Jooste and his close friend Berdine, Cape Winelands Properties set out some of the key selling points:

Keep your own horses, cultivate vineyards, olive groves or organic vegetables this property offers you an opportunity of a lifetime a farm lifestyle within a greater, secure estate with facilities such as state of the art security, restaurants, gyms, Olympic swimming pool and indoor pool, 52kms of running / cycling trails, tennis & squash courts, winery, coffee roastery, shops, deli and Spa.

Situated beneath the awe-inspiring peaks of the Drakenstein and Simonsberg Mountains, Val de Vie Estate offers a one-of-a-kind luxury lifestyle.

Internationally recognized for its winemaking, polo and its iconic Jack Nicklaus Golf Course at Pearl Valley, Val de Vie was voted the Top Residential Estate in South Africa for the past three years and has earned the Safest House in Africa award.

With the opening of our new flagship entrance gate, traveling time to Stellenbosch will be drastically reduced, with the International airport a mere 30 minutes away. Cape Town is an easy 45 minutes away.

Berdine Odendaal
The Huffington Post says Odendaal [pictured here] and Jooste share the same post office box in Pretoria: PO Box 17328, Groenkloof, Pretoria. Jooste, his wife Ingrid and Odendaal also list the same PO Box in Somerset-West: PO Box 902, Somerset Mall.

Markus Jooste is also selling horses.

Explained Racingpost.com: “Absa had been given shares in Steinhoff International as security for its loan but the value of the shares has collapsed from R46 to below R5 since Jooste resigned as chief executive this month and the subsequent allegations of financial irregularities.

“In addition, Absa alleges that Jooste must have been aware of the irregularities, and that they would soon be discovered, when Mayfair Speculators declared a dividend of R1.5 billion (£89m/€100.2m) to its holding company in August.”

Jooste, says Racing Post, has between 150 and 250 horses in training in South Africa – including some in partnerships – and has been the country’s leading owner for the past ten seasons. He also has horses in France and Germany as well as at Ballydoyle.

“It is still not clear whether those in Europe will all be sold, but Absa said that Mayfair France was in the process of selling racehorses,” it added.