Andreas Seifert gets his teeth into his former friends at Steinhoff – again!

EDINBURGH — Andreas Seifert is the former Steinhoff partner who has been involved in a long-running legal battle with the retail group. Steinhoff has been in serious trouble ever since Germany authorities revealed they were investigating irregularities within the company. In September, Steinhoff issued a statement that the litigation with Seifert had come to an end following a court-endorsed settlement in which Seifert repurchased the half of his furniture chain, Poco. Business Day reported at the time that Seifert would buy back Steinhoff’s half of his furniture chain Poco for €271m. But, this week, it became clear that Seifert is still going for his former Steinhoff pals like a Jack Russell Terrier. A company linked to Andreas Seifert has managed to delay a plan to rescue Steinhoff’s European businesses by launching a fresh legal challenge – this time opposing a company voluntary arrangement. – Jackie Cameron

By Janice Kew

(Bloomberg) – Steinhoff International Holdings NV’s effort to rescue its European business has been delayed after a challenge from a company linked to Andreas Seifert, the beleaguered retailer’s latest opposition from its former Austrian partner.

LSW GmbH, “which says it’s a creditor of Steinhoff Europe,” is opposing a company voluntary arrangement proposed on Dec. 14, and the agreement won’t be implemented until the challenge is resolved, Stellenbosch, South Africa-based Steinhoff said in a statement Friday. LSW is “an entity related to Andreas Seifert who has a dispute ongoing in the Austrian courts against Steinhoff Europe AG,” a Steinhoff spokeswoman said in an emailed response to questions.

Markus Jooste, Steinhoff’s ex-chief Executive Officer, last year said the global retailer’s near-collapse originated from a protracted dispute with Seifert. The legal battle, mainly over the valuation and ownership of German furniture chain POCO, led to investigations by European regulators and tax authorities that attracted the attention of Steinhoff’s auditors at Deloitte LLP, Jooste told lawmakers on Sept. 5. He quit in December 2017 after the retailer’s board disagreed with his plan to replace the auditors.

Company voluntary arrangements, or CVAs, are a means used by financially distressed businesses to come to an agreement under UK law with unsecured creditors, often by getting more favourable property rental agreements and allowing some outlets to close before their leases expire.

The process can be an efficient way to reduce and rearrange debt when a majority of creditors approve, said Louise Parker, a London-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

However, “often a minority creditor will challenge the CVA process since they believe they are being unfairly treated, and will attempt to get other creditors to make the same move,” she said.

CVAs are becoming more frequent on the UK’s shopping districts, with Homebase becoming another in a list of retailers using the process to shutter outlets. Fashion retailer New Look, baby- and children’s-wear chain Mothercare Plc and floor-coverings seller Carpetright Plc have turned to CVAs as they’ve closed dozens of stores.