South Africa

Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to dig deeper into the accounting misdeeds that brought the retailing giant to its knees as it seeks to get to the bottom of some $7.4 billion in fictitious or improper deals, Bloomberg News reported. A forensic probe by PwC found that a small group of former executives -- with the help of others outside the company -- structured phony transactions that substantially inflated earnings and asset values, according to a 10-page summary of the report published Friday.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV is seeking to sell properties in Europe worth about 400 million euros ($450 million) to raise cash as it restructures its debt, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The South African retailer, which almost collapsed amid an accounting scandal in late 2017, has hired Eastdil Secured LLC to advise on the sale of office buildings, warehouses and production sites in countries including the U.K., Germany, Poland, and Hungary, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

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South African builder Group Five filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday after lenders pulled funding, threatening the collapse of one of the biggest names in the local construction industry and more than 8,000 jobs, Reuters reported. Group Five, which traces its roots back to the 1970s with the tie-up of five construction companies, has struggled to make money for years in an industry squeezed by stagnant economic growth and a pullback in infrastructure spending by the government and private sector.

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Absa Group Ltd., the South African lender once controlled by Barclays Plc, fell for the ninth straight day to head for its longest streak of losses in six years as full-year profit missed analyst estimates, Bloomberg News reported. Banks in Africa’s most industrialized economy are battling to overcome the challenges of tepid gross domestic product growth and a loss of consumer and business confidence, pressuring their ability to generate revenue.

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Hopes of a trade truce between China and the U.S. and a more dovish Federal Reserve are giving South Africa’s rand a boost -- and President Cyril Ramaphosa some breathing space as he struggles to stabilize the state-owned electricity company while curbing government debt levels, Bloomberg News reported. Given the outlook for South Africa’s economy -- sluggish growth, a widening fiscal deficit, and the threat of a credit-rating downgrade to junk -- the rand shouldn’t be a popular investment.

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EOH Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Van Coller is in a race against the clock to restructure the sprawling South African IT business before shareholders and lenders run out of patience, Bloomberg News reported. Van Coller, a former executive at Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and MTN Group Ltd., was brought in to turn around the troubled business and improve its corporate reputation after allegations of corruption linked to government contracts.

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South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings N.V. said on Thursday it had received a petition by a group of shareholders looking for an inquiry into the company before a Dutch court, the latest addition to its growing troubles, Reuters reported. The company has been in the middle of a clean-up of its balance sheet after discovering multi-billion euro holes in its balance sheet more than a year ago. One of Steinhoff’s creditors has also challenged the company’s plan to restructure its convertible debt into new secured loans.

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South Africa’s state-owned power utility may need as much as 230 billion rand ($16.5 billion) of financial assistance over the next decade, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. needs immediate help and it can’t await restructuring of its business, Mboweni told lawmakers in Cape Town Thursday. “It is 150 billion rand amortized and that makes it 230 billion rand, or 23 billion rand a year,” National Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane said.

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South Africa will bail out state utility Eskom with 69 billion rand ($4.9 billion) over three years, the centrepiece of a budget that exposed the limited room President Cyril Ramaphosa has to fix the economy ahead of an election in May, Reuters reported. Ramaphosa, who is fighting rifts within his own party before the parliamentary election, has made reforming Eskom one of his top priorities as its 420 billion rand debt pile poses a direct threat to Africa’s most developed economy.

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Deutsche Bank AG plans to start rebuilding its South African workforce just months after scaling back staff and cutting costs as part of a global restructuring, Bloomberg News reported. “The hiring we’re currently pursuing is geared toward enhancing the areas where we have global and local strengths, such as fixed income,” South Africa Chief Executive Officer Muneer Ismail said in an interview on Tuesday.

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