Steinhoff tanks 57% as CEO leaves amid accounting probe

Poundland Parent Steinhoff Announces Investigation Into Accounting Irregularities

Steinhoff said the discovery of "new information" prompted the firm to draft in PwC to perform an "independent investigation". In November of that year, German authorities searched Steinhoff offices in the town of Westerstede and visited private homes as part of an investigation by prosecutors in the German town of Oldenburg (near where Steinhoff's European HQ is based) into four current and former managers.

Chairman Christo Wiese will take the role of executive chairman on a temporary basis, while Pieter Erasmus - formerly chief executive of Pepkor Group, one of Steinhoff's African subsidiaries - will help Wiese in an advisory capacity.

Shares in Steinhoff International fell by about 60 per cent after the news was announced.

In addition to purchases like the UK's Bensons for Beds, the company has made plays for appliance chain Darty in France and household-goods retailer Argos in Britain.

Jooste had tendered his resignation with immediate effect, and the board had accepted it, Tuesday night's statement said. Attempts to contact Jooste were not immediately successful.

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Steinhoff is a global giant with annual sales of more than €18 billion (and well over €1 billion in Australia). Wiese had a net worth of $4.3bn as of Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Jooste was at the helm of the company for almost 20 years and oversaw its expansion to one of the world's largest household goods retailers. Reuters reported last month that Steinhoff did not tell investors about nearly $1 billion in transactions with a related company, despite laws that some experts say require it to do so.

Steinhoff shares lost over 56% in trading on the Johannesburg stock exchange. The company has transformed itself in the past four years from a mostly African-focused retailer to an acquisitive powerhouse that now owns Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Poundland in the UK.

The retailer has indefinitely delayed the release of financial results, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, citing a criminal and tax investigation in Germany.

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