‘Shadow margin’ is a hot business for brokers. Now they’re licking their wounds. When the bankers of Christo Wiese, the former chairman and largest shareholder of Steinhoff International Holdings – a global retail empire that includes the Mattress Firm and Sleepy’s in the US – went to work on December 6 in the epic nothing-can-go-wrong calm of the rising stock markets, they suddenly discovered that much of their collateral for a 1.6-billion margin loan they’d made to Wiese had just evaporated.
Citigroup, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and Nomura had extended Wiese this ‘securities-based loan’ in September 2016. His investment vehicles pledged 628 million of his Steinhoff shares as collateral, at the time worth 3.2 billion. He wanted this money so he could participate in a Steinhoff share sale in conjunction with the acquisition of Mattress Firm and Poundland, essentially borrowing against his Steinhoff shares to buy more Steinhoff shares.
This loan forms part of the $21 billion of debt associated with Steinhoff that global banks are exposed to.
But that December 6, the shares of Steinhoff plunged 64% to 1.07 on the Frankfurt stock exchange after the company announced the departure of the CEO and unspecified ‘accounting irregularities requiring further investigation.’
This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 19, 2017.