June 27, 2018 / 10:18 AM / 5 months ago

South Africa's Wiese cuts Shoprite stake after Steinhoff hit

FILE PHOTO: South African magnate Christo Wiese listens during an interview in Cape Town, South Africa, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African tycoon Christo Wiese sold part of his stake in grocer Shoprite (SHPJ.J) on Wednesday, raising 3.6 billion rand ($264 million) and shoring up his finances, which were dented by his exposure to scandal-hit Steinhoff.

Nearly $15 billion has been wiped off Steinhoff (SNHJ.J) (SNHG.DE) shares over the last six months after the owner of Mattress Firm and Conforama revealed holes in its accounts.

Wiese was particularly hard hit by the fall as the largest shareholder in Steinhoff, with a stake of about 20 percent.

Wiese’s company Titan sold 17 million shares, or a 2.9 percent stake, at 210 rand each in Shoprite, a 130 billion rand company he transformed from just six outlets in the 1970s to hundreds across Africa.

“This transaction is part of Titan’s ongoing investment and balance sheet management,” Morgan Stanley said in a statement. “Titan continues to believe in the long-term value of Shoprite and will remain a strategic investor in the company.”

The sale, which was via a so-called accelerated bookbuild, reduces Wiese’s stake in Shoprite to about 11 percent. He stake was as big as 17 percent in early December.

Shares in Shoprite fell as much as 9 percent before recouping some of the losses to trade 5.3 percent lower at 212.99 rand as of 0844 GMT.

RMB and Absa also helped arrange deal.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Alexander Smith

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