Shoprite owner Christo Wiese quits two positions as he prepares for legal battle with Steinhoff

South African tycoon and owner of Shoprite Christo Wiese has stepped down from two positions that he occupies at Brait SE where he is a shareholder with 35 percent stakes. The investment company cited time constraint as the reason why he resigned. This comes about five months after he resigned  as chairman and biggest shareholder of Steinhoff, where accounting irregularities were uncovered.

Wiese, who is currently suing Steinhoff over his investment, retired on Tuesday as a non-executive director of Brait’s UK company New Look and as the non-executive chairman of Brait South Africa Proprietary Ltd.

He will, however, retain his non-executive directorship of Brait and has appointed his son Jacob Wiese as an alternate at the firm. Brait currently owns British a no-frills clothing chain, gym chain Virgin Active and British supermarket Iceland Foods.

Wiese is best known for transforming grocery retailer Shoprite from just six shops in the 1970s to hundreds of stores across Africa as well as his investment in crisis-hit Steinhoff International.

Wiese is suing Steinhoff for R59 billion  ($4.7 billion) to recoup the losses he incurred when the retailer’s share price crashed after the company reported a hole in its accounts in December. According to Bloomberg, the legal claim partly hinges on the cancellation of a 2014 agreement in which Wiese sold clothing chain Pepkor Holdings Ltd. to Steinhoff, which eventually led to the 76-year-old becoming the largest shareholder. That deal also required Brait to sell a Pepkor stake. Since the scandal began, Steinhoff’s stock has crashed more than 95 percent, while Wiese’s wealth has slumped to $2.1 billion from more than $5 billion. Just recently, it was reported that he was selling two of his private jets: Dassault Falcon 900C and Boeing Business Jet.

There seems to be a stepping down spree in various organizations in South Africa. Apart from Wiese, Mark Lamberti, Linda Mobosa and Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan have stepped down from the various positions  they held at Imperial Holdings, Transnet, Christo and  AngloGold Ashanti respectively.