Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn quits over related-party deal

Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn says her resignation is due to a conflict of interest
Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn says her resignation is due to a conflict of interest
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Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn has resigned, becoming another casualty of the complex business relationships of the controversial retailer.

Sonn said on Monday she had resigned after discovering a company she had a stake in had “unwittingly” completed a transaction with another company that may have been associated with and indirectly funded by Steinhoff.

“Based on what is now known to me it would have required certain disclosures that I would have made had I been aware thereof,” Sonn said in a statement.

Sonn is a major shareholder in the investment company Gamiro, a controlling shareholder in Blake and Associates.

In 2017, Gamiro procured an option to acquire an interest in Blake from a subsidiary of Geros Financial Services.

In September 2018, Blake bought back its shares from Geros, and Gamiro subsequently acquired a direct interest in Blake.

Recently obtained information suggests that Geros may have been associated with and indirectly funded by Steinhoff, which would make the Geros transaction a related-party transaction, Steinhoff’s statement reads.

“Sonn has informed the company that she was not aware of this at the time,” the group said.

“It is important to note that Ms Sonn has in no way been found to have participated in the accounting irregularities at Steinhoff,” Steinhhoff’s  supervisory board vice-chair,  Peter Wakkie, said.

Sonn’s “strong and calm leadership has been invaluable during the turbulent times that the group has faced since December 2017”, Wakkie said.

In morning trade on Monday, Steinhoff’s share price gained 1% to R1.01, having lost more than 98% of its value over the past three years.    — BusinessLIVE

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