Steinhoff says account doubts stretch back to at least 2015

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Financial troubles at South African retailer Steinhoff deepened on Tuesday as it said its 2015 results would have to be restated and maybe earlier figures as well, having already warned on its 2016 numbers.

The owner of more than 40 retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland is fighting for survival after last month flagging accounting irregularities and parting ways with its chief executive.

A review being carried out by accountants PwC now suggested that “accounting irregularities” may stretch beyond 2015, it said.

“Whilst the internal review and investigation into the accounting irregularities have not yet concluded, the restatement of the financial statements … for years prior to 2015 is likely to be required,” Steinhoff said in a statement.

The company last month postponed its 2017 results until the investigation is over.

Steinhoff shares have since fallen by more than 90 percent, wiping billions of dollars off its market value.

It warned then that there was a 2 billion euro ($2.4 billion) hole in its balance sheet and has said since that some credit facilities have been suspended or withdrawn as it grapples with more than 10 billion euros in outstanding debt.

Separately, the company has been under investigation for suspected accounting fraud in Germany since 2015. It moved its primary share listing from Johannesburg to Frankfurt late that year.

Four current and former managers are under suspicion of having overstated revenue at subsidiaries, prosecutors said.

Steinhoff has said the German investigation relates to whether revenue was booked properly, and whether taxable profits were correctly declared.

Steinhoff shares were up 13 percent in Johannesburg at 0828 GMT.

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