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BREAKING NEWS

Steinhoff says firm linked to former partner claims it is owed $330 million

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African retailer International Holdings N.V. said on Tuesday a former partner firm of its European operations claims it is owed about 291 million euros (£256.62 million or $331 million) by the company.

Steinhoff is in the middle of a clean-up of its balance sheet after discovering multi-billion euro holes in its balance sheet more than a year ago.

LWS GmbH, a company linked to Austrian businessman Andreas Seifert, claims to be a creditor of Steinhoff Europe AG (SEAG), the parent company said.

Steinhoff was notified earlier this year that LWS planned to challenge a company voluntary arrangement for SEAG proposed on Dec. 14.

Seifert has an ongoing dispute in the Austrian courts against SEAG, Steinhoff Investor Relations Officer Reina de Waal confirmed in an emailed response to questions.

Steinhoff and Seifert, a former business partner, were in dispute over the ownership of discount furniture store chain POCO.

Under the so-called company voluntary arrangement, Steinhoff wants to restructure SEAG's debt by way of a new term loan facility to be issued by a newly incorporated Luxembourg company which shall sit as an indirect subsidiary of SEAG.

"The company continues to work towards the implementation of the financial restructuring of the group and management continues to support and focus on the ongoing operations," Steinhoff said in a statement.

Steinhoff anticipates publishing its group audited financial statements for 2017 and 2018 by April 18, "subject to any delay caused by the challenge to the SEAG CVA."

At 0738 GMT, the Johannesburg-listed shares of Steinhoff were down 1.06 percent versus a 0.56 percent decline in the broader index <.JALSH>.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Jason Neely)

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