Steinhoff plans to sell stake in Unitrans

It's part of the embattled retailer's strategy to sell non-core assets.

Embattled retailer Steinhoff announced on Thursday that it had reached an in-principle agreement to sell 74.9 percent of Steinhoff Africa’s shares in automotive dealer network Unitrans to CFAO Holdings South Africa.

Unitrans is one of the largest automotive dealer networks in South Africa, operating 99 dealerships throughout the country.

“The company has a significant market share among the top selling affordable brands, as well as a number of luxury brands. Operating in the motor retail market, Unitrans represents Toyota, GM (parts distribution), Nissan, Renault, BMW, Mini, VW, Audi, Mercedes, Ford, Opel, Honda, Kia, Lexus and Haval,” Steinhoff said in a statement.

“Unitrans’ trucking division represents Isuzu, Hino, MAN and FUSO. Unitrans also operates, on an exclusive basis, the Hertz car rental franchise in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.”

CFAO Holdings South Africa is a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of CFAO, a subsidiary of the Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

Steinhoff said it had also reached an agreement to dispose of 100 percent of the loan claims against Unitrans held by its subsidiary Steinhoff Africa.

Steinhoff didn’t disclose the price it will achieve for the sale.  In 2017, Steinhoff admitted to accounting irregularities, wiping about 85 percent off its market value.

Steinhoff said the decision to dispose of its shares in Unitrans follows its strategic review to sell some of its non-core assets, including its shareholding in KAP Industrial Holdings and Unitrans.

KAP and Unitrans have “very different business characteristics and growth drivers from the rest of Steinhoff’s retail portfolio.”

“Negotiations for the disposal of Unitrans were therefore commenced in 2018,” the company said.