February 20, 2018 / 6:23 AM / 2 years ago

Dutch court rules Steinhoff must amend 2016 accounts

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A Dutch court has ordered Steinhoff International to amend its 2016 accounts, handing victory to a former business partner in a dispute over the ownership of discount furniture store chain POCO, the crisis-hit retailer said on Tuesday.

The Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeals ruled that Steinhoff must change its accounts to show it held a 50 percent controlling interest in POCO, not 100 percent, to reflect the part-ownership of Andreas Seifert, Steinhoff said on Tuesday.

The case brought by Seifert, the owner of German furniture chain XXXLutz, predates Steinhoff’s admission in December that it had found “accounting irregularities” - a revelation that helped to wipe out about 85 percent of the South African retail group’s market value.

Seifert claims half-ownership of POCO, while Steinhoff says he had to be bought out due to unspecified actions by his company, Seifert Enterprises. Steinhoff said it would pay Seifert for his half of POCO as soon as a separate ongoing legal case in Germany over the ownership of POCO was settled.

The Amsterdam court also ordered Steinhoff to revise the contingent liabilities in its 2016 accounts to remove a reference to the payable liability to Seifert for the holding in POCO, according to Steinhoff.

“The company is in the process of studying the judgement (including whether it provides grounds for appeal) and considering the impact of the decision on the Group’s accounts and will update shareholders in due course,” the group said.

The vast majority of POCO’s more than 100 outlets are in Germany, where the brand generated sales of 1.52 billion euros (1.35 billion pounds) in 2016, according to its website.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Louise Heavens

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