Absa Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group Limited (BGL), has distanced itself from compiling or reviewing the financial statements of Steinhoff International, saying that it was only the retailers’ Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) transaction sponsor.
This comes after media reports that Dutch Investors Association (VEB) in January launched a class action against Steinhoff in the Netherlands for the losses suffered by its shareholders in a 2015 share sale.
On Wednesday, VEB mentioned that it had given three banks; Absa, Barclays Plc and Commerzbank AG, notices of its plan to file the lawsuit over “misleading prospectus”.
VEB alleges that the banks are liable for damages incurred by Steinhoff shareholders because of their roles in the listing of Steinhoff on the Frankfurt and Johannesburg stock exchanges in November 2015 as part of its creation of a holding company in Amsterdam.
The banks all provided services to Steinhoff when it was producing two prospectuses in 2015 that preceded its listing in Frankfurt.
“We have noted press reports that VEB has indicated that it has notified Absa and two other banks that it is holding them liable for losses incurred by Steinhoff shareholders. Absa has not received any notification from VEB in this regard,” the bank says in a statement.
“Absa’s role was limited to ensuring that the JSE’s listing rules were complied with by Steinhoff SA, the relevant JSE-listed company. Absa’s mandate specifically did not include the compilation or review of the financial statements of Steinhoff South Africa or any other Steinhoff company.”
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