Steinhoff International Holding – OLG Frankfurt opens model case proceedings

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The Steinhoff accounting scandal has shaken investors. Those who have incurred losses can join the ongoing model case proceedings pursuant to the German Capital Markets Model Case Act, the Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz (KapMuG).

At the end of 2017, investors in Steinhoff International Holding N.V. were rocked by news of accounting irregularities. The company’s share price subsequently collapsed. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that investors who have incurred losses can now register and assert their claims for damages as part of model case proceedings.

Model case proceedings against Steinhoff International Holding N.V. are currently being heard by the OLG Frankfurt pursuant to the KapMuG. The purpose of the model case proceedings is to establish whether Steinhoff failed to comply with its ad-hoc obligations and in doing so rendered itself liable to pay damages to its investors. The OLG Frankfurt has since designated a lead petitioner and thus officially opened model case proceedings.

For the investors, this means that they can register their claims for damages as part of the model case proceedings within a period of 6 months until the end of January 2020. Registration halts the prescription of claims and also allows the investors to join the model case proceedings and benefit from the outcome at an acceptable level of risk as regards costs. The first oral hearing begins on December 18, 2019.

Steinhoff informed the investors about the accounting irregularities on December 5, 2017. Several annual financial statements were retracted and need to be drawn up again. Moreover, the report by the auditing company is now available. It can be assumed from this that turnover and profits were inflated at Steinhoff over a period of years. The investors have incurred substantial financial losses as a result and can assert claims for damages, as Steinhoff was too late in informing about the accounting irregularities and misled others regarding the company’s valuation.

There have since been indications that Steinhoff might be interested in reaching a settlement with the shareholders. If a settlement is concluded in the context of the model case proceedings, only those investors who registered their claims as part of said proceedings will benefit directly from this.

Shareholders who acquired their shares between the IPO on December 7, 2015 and the ad-hoc announcement on December 5, 2017 may be entitled to claim damages. Lawyers with experience in the field of capital markets law can advise on damages claims and registration within the framework of the model case proceedings. 

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