Jessica Fino 7 Dec 2018 12:51pm

PwC investigation delays Steinhoff accounts

Poundland-owner Steinhoff International has been forced to postpone the publication of its financial results because of the impact of PwC’s investigation into the company’s accounts

Steinhoff told shareholders the Big Four investigative process has been “significantly more complex” than expected, with “multiple work
streams operating across a number of jurisdictions”.

As a result, it expects the probe to be completed by the end of February 2019.

The company said that, due to this delay, it estimates that it will publish its audited group financial statements for 2017 and 2018 by the middle of April 2019. The 2017 and 2018 financial statements for Steinhoff Investment Holdings Ltd will be released “shortly thereafter”.

In its statement, Steinhoff explained the full implications of PwC’s findings on its financial statements are still being analysed, which is why it will not be possible for all the work required to be finalised within the original timeframe.

This is not the first time the company has delayed the publication of the accounts. In December last year, it announced that, due to PwC’s probe, it would only publish its audited 2017 consolidated financial statements when it was in a position to do so.

Chairperson Heather Sonn said, "We sincerely regret this revision to the reporting timeline. While substantial progress has been made, the volume and complexity of the work required, including the interactions between the various parties, has been significantly greater than initially anticipated and more time is needed for all parties involved to complete the outstanding tasks.

“I would like to assure all stakeholders that we continue to approach these projects with maximum effort and commitment as we seek to bring them to conclusion.”

The group, which owns Poundland as well as 6,500 retail outlets and 40 brands worldwide including Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK, revealed that its 2015 and 2016 financial statements would need to be restated and “could not be relied on”.

In December last year, South Africa’s audit regulator announced a probe into Deloitte over the scandal. The investigation of the Big Four firm, which has audited Steinhoff for almost 20 years, concerned the financial years ended 2014-2016.

In February, shareholders at Steinhoff said they were launching legal proceeding against the company and Deloitte.

PwC has been contacted for comment.