Steinhoff appoints new chair, deputy chair

Steinhoff International has appointed Moira Moses as chair of the board, it announced on Friday. 

Alexandra Watson has been appointed as the Deputy Chairperson of the Board.

Moses and Watson were both appointed as non-executive directors of Steinhoff Investment Holdings at the end of October 2018.

Watson’s credentials include a stint as managing director of Land Rover, Volvo and Jaguar in southern Africa from 2000 to 2004, as well as being managing director of Control Instruments, Automotive from 2004 to 2005. Previously, she was general manager of re-engineering at Transnet from 2005 to 2007 and group executive of Capital Projects from 2007 to 2012.

She was a non-executive director on the board of the Public Investment Corporation from 2007 to 2015, and served as a board trustee of the Government Employees Pension Fund from 2009 to 2018. Non-executive directorships include Transnet Limited, Viamax and MTN Group, while she is currently a non-executive director of Afrisam Group and Kansai Plascon Africa Limited.

Watson is a member of Steinhoff’s audit and risk committee, as well as its governance, social and ethics committee and the nomination committee. 

She was a professor in the College of Accounting at the University of Cape Town until March 2018, where her area of expertise was financial reporting and other forms of corporate reporting. 

She is also a member of the South African Financial Reporting Investigations Panel, as well as being a board member and vice-chairman of the Global Reporting Initiative, an Amsterdam-based organisation promoting understanding and communication of sustainability issues.

The appointments follow the recent resignation of previous chair Heather Sonn, who stepped down from all her functions at the multinational retailer. 

In a statement on Monday, Sonn said a company in which she is a shareholder, Gamiro Ventures, had “unwittingly” completed a transaction with Geros Financial Services that “now appears may have been associated with and (indirectly) funded by the company (Steinhoff)”.

“In December 2017 I requested that this transaction be placed on the list for investigation by PwC when a name in the shareholding structure of the shareholder of Geros was recognised as a name that also appeared in the Viceroy Report.

“Unfortunately, it has taken over two years to get to a conclusion as to the nature of the relationship between the company and Geros, but there were multiple priorities for the company at the time,” she said. 

Sonn said that “based on what is now known to me” the transaction “would have required certain disclosures which I would have made had I been aware thereof”.

Sonn was appointed the scandal plagued retailer’s acting chairperson in mid-December 2017, following the resignation of billionaire Christo Wiese. Her position was made permanent the following year.  She took up the role barely a week after Steinhoff’s CEO Markus Jooste abruptly resigned at the start of a wide-ranging accounting scandal that has caused the company’s share price to plunge by over 95{e93887a69cdd95d753f466db084bbc3aa0067124675315461d28d68a72842cc2}. 

On 23 March this year, the company advised shareholders that it intends to publish its 2019 consolidated financial statements during May 2020. These financial statements are now scheduled for release on Friday, 29 May 2020.

Compiled by Carin Smith

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