Steinhoff International, which owns the Poundland and Dealz chains, as well as a myriad of other household and general merchandise retail businesses, has said that it has launched an investigation into accounting irregularities within the company.
Its European operation expanded past year to include United Kingdom discount retailer Poundland.
Steinhoff has delayed the publication of its 2017 financial results indefinitely as it investigates what it terms "accounting irregularities". The Supervisory Board, in consultation with the statutory auditors of the Company, has approached PWC to perform an independent investigation.
Markus Jooste, chief executive of German-listed Steinhoff International Holdings NV, has resigned, the company said on Tuesday. It warned it might have to restate financial statements from prior years.
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Steinhoff said its chairman and largest shareholder Christo Wiese would take temporary charge while a successor to Mr Jooste was identified.
Steinhoff's share price fell by more than 50% by midday on Wednesday, dropping to about R19 from its Tuesday close of R45.65.
As well as furniture and homeware, it also sells products including clothing, footwear and consumer goods.
The group's brands include Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK, Conforama in Europe, Pep and Ackermans in South Africa and Snooze in Australia.
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It bought Poundland a year ago and has introduced its Pep&Co budget clothing brand into scores of stores.
Steinhoff moved its primary stock market listing from South Africa to Frankfurt in 2015.
While the nature of its accounting investigation was not disclosed, it had already been known that it was facing a tax probe in Germany.
It is not clear if these are the accounting irregularities Steinhoff is referring to in its latest statement.
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