Tekkie Town’s founders want to stop an ‘increasingly desperate’ Steinhoff from selling the chain they hope to claim back
- The founders of Tekkie Town have launched an urgent attempt to interdict Steinhoff from selling off the business before they can claim it back for themselves.
- The group says Steinhoff appears to be increasingly desperate for cash to appease its creditors, and won't promise not to cash in Tekkie Town.
- If successful, the action will lock up an easily saleable asset that could be worth around R3 billion.
The founders of Tekkie Town have asked the high court in Cape Town to stop Steinhoff from selling the business they started until they can claw it back.
In the new action, launched on Tuesday, the Tekkie Town group says it has watched Steinhoff sell off other assets (such as car dealership group Unitrans and industrial group KAP) and have reason to fear the same may happen to the chain they sold to Steinhoff, for shares, shortly before its spectacular collapse.
“In its zeal to achieve some measure of liquidity, there exist a very real risk that further asset [particularly Tekkie Town] may be sold or pledged as security to raise funds," said Bernard Mostert, former Tekkie Town CEO, in a founding affidavit.
See also: A drunken late-night call and a ‘double agent’: new dispatches from the war over Tekkie Town
His group's attempts to take back Tekkie Town on the basis that they were defrauded in swapping it for Steinhoff shares could be made moot by the "increasingly desperate steps" the fallen giant is taking to raise money, Mostert said.
The group has asked Steinhoff to promise not to sell Tekkie Town, or encumber it as part of a fundraising scheme, but to no avail.
It now hopes to have its urgent interdict application heard towards the end of April.
If successful, that action will stop Steinhoff from cashing in on Tekkie Town, and may also put restrictions on the way Steinhoff International can deal with the shares of Pepkor in South Africa.
See also: Court papers allege conspiracy, theft, and Christian video as Tekkie Town founders tried to force Steinhoff to sell
The founders swapped Tekkie Town for Steinhoff shares that were worth some R3.3 billion at the time.
They had handed over a "highly successful and profitable retail operation with some 230 stores" in exchange for those shares, Mostert said – before the Steinhoff "bubble burst" with an accompanying "catastrophic loss of value".
The group started its attempts to claim back Tekkie Town shortly after Steinhoff announced that it suspected its books had been cooked.
In his new affidavit Mostert says the Tekkie Town sellers did not understand, at the time of the sale, some of the complex financial engineering Steinhoff put in place for a relatively simple deal.
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