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New setback in Steinhoff’s quest to have an R25 billion settlement approved by a court

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Claimants who lost billions of rands when Steinhoff’s stock price plummeted in late 2017 will have to wait a little longer to see if a judge will approve the retailer’s plan to pay out nearly R25 billion in compensation. On Thursday, a hearing to sanction the settlement agreement before Western Cape High Court Judge Tandazwa Ndita lasted about 15 minutes when lawyers for all parties agreed to temporarily remove the case from the court’s docket.

Lawyers for Steinhoff, former Tekkie Town CEO Bernard Mostert, claimant organisation Trevo, and Steinhoff’s former auditor Deloitte SA recommended meeting again next Monday for a case management hearing. Ntida agreed with the suggestion, noting that she had not had enough time to read all of the papers that had been filed.

Steinhoff has requested the court to approve the settlement plan. If both the Western Cape High Court and a court in Amsterdam agree, Steinhoff will be entitled to begin paying out monies to claimants who overwhelmingly supported the scheme earlier this month. Claimants will be paid a percentage of their validated claims resulting from the substantial reduction in Steinhoff’s share price, according to the plan. They will have to abandon any legal actions against the retailer, who will not admit blame.

Mostert is adamantly opposed to Steinhoff’s application. He claims that Steinhoff’s ex-CEO Markus Jooste “duped” him and his colleagues into exchanging their shares in the footwear chain for stock in Steinhoff. In papers filed on Thursday, Mostert said the settlement would result in Tekkie Town staying in the Steinhoff stable even though it was “obtained from the plaintiffs by fraud”. Steinhoff and the former owners of Tekkie Town will also meet next month as a separate liquidation case against the retailer continues.