South African State Pension Fund Lost 0.6% on Steinhoff Plunge

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The South African state pension fund said it lost the equivalent of 0.6 percent of its entire portfolio because of the collapse in Steinhoff International Holdings NV’s share price and will insist on representation on a board committee investigating irregularities.

The Public Investment Corp. and the Government Employees Pension Fund remain “deeply concerned about Steinhoff,” the entities said in a statement emailed Wednesday from Pretoria. “Recent developments point to serious governance challenges.”

In addition to board representation, the PIC and the GEPF will insist on the appointment of at least two independent non-executive directors at Steinhoff and subsidiary Steinhoff Africa Retail Ltd., according to the statement. They also expressed “discomfort” with the lack of independence at the board, including the possible conflict of interest following Christo Wiese’s appointment as interim chief executive officer.

Steinhoff’s shares have fallen 79 percent in Johannesburg in the past week after the owner of Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Poundland in the U.K. delayed publication of its financial results because of possible accounting irregularities that prompted the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste.

The GEPF said its total equity portfolio had “created value” of about 140 billion rand ($10.3 billion) over the past 12 months. GEPF funds and reserves totaled 1.67 trillion rand in March, according to its 2016-17 annual report.

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