15/12/2017 06:46 SAST | Updated 15/12/2017 06:46 SAST

Christo Wiese Resigns From Steinhoff As Company Weighs Selling Off Assets

Wiese reportedly resigned to address any conflict of interest concerns.

Christo Wiese.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Christo Wiese.

Steinhoff chairperson Christo Wiese has resigned from the company following the accounting-fraud allegations that have rocked it, leading to a drop in the share price by over 80%, Business Day reported.

The board accepted Wiese's resignation on Thursday. He stepped in as interim CEO after the resignation of CEP Markus Jooste.

This follows an announcement by the company on Wednesday that it would have to "restate" its 2016 financial results.

Business Day reported that Steinhoff will meet with banks in an attempt to salvage the company, which employs 130,000 people worldwide.

The reasons for Wiese's resignation are unclear, although the company said it was to "address any conflict of interest that may exist".

Sasfin Securities' David Shapiro told Business Day: "I don't know how to interpret this. You don't know whether it's a matter of culpability or whether he would hinder any processes. When he first got involved with Jooste it was a surprise... Wiese's reputation was a lot more conservative and built up over a long period of time."

According to Fin24, Wiese's net worth has declined by $2.billion since the scandal began. He reportedly built up clothing retailer Pepkor and sold it to Steinhoff in 2014.

On Wednesday, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the second largest shareholder in Steinhoff, said it would ask for a seat at the board committee investigating the accounting irregularities, MoneyWeb reported.

Business Day reported that the company is weighing up selling off noncore assets. Analysts have speculated that these might include its US and Australian assets.

But there might be pushback from the South African Reserve Bank, which is reportedly unlikely to agree to sending a large amount of money offshore.