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South African retail group Steinhoff extends deadline for creditors for the second time

By Angela Gonzalez-Rodriguez

23 Jul 2018

Steinhoff has extended the “early bird fee” deadline for creditors to sign a three-year agreement to hold off their debt claims for the second time. The retailer is looking for ways to restructure its circa nine billion euro debt.

Steinhoff saw how growing debt wiped more than 90 percent off its market value and forced it into asset sales to fund working capital.

The initial deadline was set for July 16, which was extended by 24 hours on Monday before being pushed back once again to 2200 GMT on Wednesday, reports Reuters. Steinhoff needs at least 75 percent of creditors to sign up by the final lock-up agreement deadline. Once enough creditors are locked into the three-year deal, Steinhoff will begin restructuring its debt within three months.

“Positive progress is being made and the group is aiming to obtain, as soon as possible, the requisite support levels under the LUA,” Steinhoff said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Steinhoff studies alternatives such as the divestment from Pepco’s fashion business unit. A source with knowledge of the matter quoted by Reuters said that a sale process is still months away and no sell-side advisor has so far been appointed. In this vein, it’s worth recalling that in June Steinhoff struck a deal to sell its Austrian Kika/Leiner furniture and household goods retail unit.

Analysts have said that a formal auction of Pepco would come only after Steinhoff had agreed to a debt-restructuring deal with bondholders and other lenders. In this regard, Ron Klipin, senior analyst at Cratos Capital, said there were talks of private equity interest in acquiring a stake in Steinhoff International.