JOHANNESBURG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - South African retailer Steinhoff International on Monday said it had gained approval for its proposed lawsuit settlement offer to claimants who lost money when it revealed holes in its accounts in December 2017.
The proposal gained the required 75% approval from creditors and market purchase claimants - those who bought Steinhoff shares - to move the group closer to finalising a deal that has been a major headache since the company’s restructuring.
The retailer faces 90 separate legal claims in Germany, South Africa and the Netherlands from those shareholders and claimants.
To avoid lengthy and expensive multi-jurisdiction legal battles, the majority owner of Pepkor in Africa and Pepco in Europe has proposed a 1.43 billion euro ($1.70 billion) offer, which needs approval from all claimants, financial creditors, courts and regulators.
Among the supporters, Steinhoff said that active claimant group, Hamilton, which represents about 14,000 retail investors, asset managers and pension funds in South Africa, had confirmed their support before the meeting.
In a separate statement, South Africa’s biggest state pension fund manager, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), said it also supported the global settlement offer.
“The PIC believes the proposed settlement is in the best interests of its clients, given the alternative cost of protracted litigation and related uncertainties, and the prospect of further diminishing share value,” said PIC, which held 8.56% of Steinhoff shares as of Aug. 31.
Meanwhile, former Steinhoff chairman Christo Wiese, who also held a significant stake in the company, told Reuters that his Titan group of companies will add its approval on Thursday after “uncertainties” were ironed out with Steinhoff.
Steinhoff had launched a last-minute court action at the weekend to try to “compel” Titan and its affiliated entities to support the offer.
As a result of the court process, the meeting for contractual claimants - those parties who sold their businesses to Steinhoff in exchange for shares, such as Wiese - has been moved to Thursday for their approval. ($1 = 14.2431 rand) ($1 = 0.8427 euros) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla Editing by David Goodman)