January 18, 2018 / 9:17 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Steinhoff board member resigns to focus on firm's Africa unit

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JOHANNESBURG, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Steinhoff International Holdings NV said on Thursday that Jayendra Naidoo resigned as a member of its supervisory board to focus his efforts on the board of its unit, Steinhoff Africa Retail Ltd (STAR), which he chairs.

Steinhoff International said Naidoo’s post would be filled by a new independent director to be appointed in due course.

Steinhoff last month admitted “accounting irregularities” as it built a debt-fuelled empire stretching from Poundland in Britain to Mattress Firm in the United States. The admission wiped about $15 billion or 85 percent off its market value.

The firm’s chief executive also left. The chairman briefly took the reins before also stepping down. In January, the chief financial officer stepped down.

“The supervisory board continues to keep the governance of the group under review and a number of candidates are in the process of being approached to strengthen the independence of the supervisory board,” the firm said in a statement.

Steinhoff spun off its African chains last year to secure a higher rating for its developed market businesses and to give investors keen on exposure to Africa a chance to invest in STAR directly.

In December, STAR reported a 25 percent rise in full-year operating profit, thanks mainly to cost cuts and a strong showing at discount clothing chains.

“STAR will continue to be a key part of the Steinhoff group and it is important to have a focused board and management team in place to maximise the potential of the business,” Steinhoff’s acting chair, Heather Sonn, said.

By 0843 GMT, shares in STAR rose 5.3 percent to 19.06 rand, while Johannesburg-listed shares of Steinhoff climbed 6.23 percent to 6.99 rand.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla in Johannesburg and Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Edmund Blair

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