Nauseating Steinhoff: Now $3.8bn Mattress Firm needs fresh funding for a turnaround

By Alec Hogg

In London on Friday, bankers owed €9.6bn (R144bn) by Steinhoff were treated to an update on developments at the scandal-wracked South African furniture group. Given the content, most may have preferred being elsewhere during the 40 slide presentation.

A company sign stands above the Steinhoff International Holdings NV company headquarters in Stellenbosch. Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg

The good news ended with the opening slide headlined: “There is an opportunity to realise significant value for all stakeholders…”. Thereafter it was a horror show that kept getting worse with a web of deceit so complex PwC’s forensic investigators say their report won’t be ready before December.

The presentation was short on details, but we do know the company which reported “profit” of almost €2bn a year now admits that was just another big lie. Steinhoff is actually losing money. And worse. Because unless fresh funding is found, the Austrian businesses are likely to go bust, threatening a domino effect.

Steinhoff’s situation is best summed up by news that US-based Mattress Firm is now also teetering. On Friday, lenders heard it needs fresh capital to fund a “turnaround.” Last June, former CEO Markus Jooste told investors the 3 300 store business that Steinhoff bought in August 2016 for $3.8bn was making $150m profit a year. Nauseating, isn’t it?