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Aspen Pharmaceutical Under Investigation For Anti-Competitive Behaviour

April 24 2017 14:00 l   

Cape Town - Pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare, which is under preliminary investigation for alleged anti-competitive behaviour, said it welcomes the process and the opportunity to set these allegations aside. 


In a company statement, the firm said it is committed to full and constructive engagement with the Competition Commission.

Aspen in its statement however points out that pharmaceutical prices are approved by the Department of Health in terms of the Single Exit Price regulatory framework, which establishes a universal fixed price for each pharmaceutical product. It said: "Aspen has not increased pricing of its products outside of this regulatory framework."

The Democratic Alliance (DA) last week lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission and the Medicines Control Council to investigate claims of anti-competitive behaviour by Aspen.

Sipho Ngwema, head of communications at the Competition Commission said in an emailed response to Fin24 that Aspen would form part of the commission's preliminary investigation into the pharmaceutical sector to determine whether there is merit to launch a full-scale investigation. 

"The healthcare sector, particularly pharmaceuticals, is a priority sector for the commission’s enforcement efforts owing to the likely negative impact that anti-competitive conduct in that sector would have on consumers in general and specifically the poor and vulnerable.

"In addition, the Competition Commission, together with the competition authorities from the other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, are studying the pharmaceutical sector to ascertain if there are any features of that sector that require regulatory intervention."

Ngwema said the complaint lodged by the DA came at an opportune time and will form part of the commission’s preliminary investigation.  

Fin24 earlier reported that Aspen, according to UK reports, secretly planned to destroy life-saving cancer medicines as a threat to force countries in Europe to allow price hikes. The company is already in an ongoing legal process with European regulators as well as a court in Italy.

The report alleges that prices for busulfan, a drug used by leukaemia patients, jumped from £5.20 (R87.32) to £65.22 (R1 095.17) a pack in England and Wales during 2013.

DA health spokesperson Wilmot James said in a statement that the allegations against Aspen are serious, and called for an immediate investigation into the business ethics of "a reputable and proudly South African company".

 “Given the reports about how the cost of cancer drugs in Europe have been inflated, an investigation by the Competition Commission and the Medicines Control Council must, therefore, look into whether the same tactics are being used in our own country.

“It appears to be an effort to manipulate the market for drugs that effectively will put them out of reach for many if not most," James said. 

The Aspen Group’s total revenue for the year ending June 30 2016 was R35.6bn. Its share price declined by 17.65% in the last year and was 1.36% down at R259.72 at 11:42 on Monday.



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Rand Surprises Analysts By Gaining 40% On Wednesday

April 13 2017 14:00 l   

Cape Town – The rand rallied by 2.7% on Wednesday gaining 40c against the dollar, surprising currency analysts in South Africa and regaining almost a third of its losses since former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was recalled from the UK and then fired.

 “It is quite a strange feeling in the market this morning, with the rand having its best day in six months yesterday,” said TreasuryOne dealer Andre Botha on Thursday.

“Breakout,” exclaimed Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns on Thursday.

“I would like to say that the march in Pretoria and comments by (Finance Minister Malusi) Gigaba were the cause of the rand strength, but that is simply not the case,” said Umkhulu Consulting’s Adam Phillips.

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S&P Has Downgraded South African Banks

April 05 2017 16:30 l   

Cape Town – Rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has downgraded South Africa’s banks to non-investment grade (BB+) to fall in line with its rating of the country.

Nedbank, Absa, Investec and FirstRand were downgraded by S&P after markets closed in South Africa on Wednesday, the rating agency website shows. 

However, Nedbank said “SA bank ratings, including Nedbank’s, were placed under ratings review by Moody’s and lowered in line with the sovereign rating by Standard & Poor’s”.

 Full Story

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South African Government Bans Brazilian Meat

March 23 2017 11:30 l   

Johannesburg – The South African government on Wednesday suspended imports of meat from establishments suspected to be involved in the Brazil meat scandal.

South Africa is joining a chorus of other countries after China, the European Union, South Korea and Chile on Monday announced restrictions of red meat imports from Brazil due to recent evidence showing that Brazilian meat-packers have been selling rotten and substandard produce for several years, especially to export markets.

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SA Economic Outlook Positive

March 10 2017 18:10 l   

Cape Town - SA is on the brink of recovery - not a great recovery, but better than hovering near zero growth, Investec director Jeremy Gardiner said at an information session on Friday.

"The world is looking much better this year than last year, including South Africa. The good news is the whole world is recovering and that will be good for emerging markets coming back in favour," said Gardiner.

"The economic outlook is positive, but there are risks to portfolios from Trump, Brexit and Zuma, among others. The Fed raising interest rates could also put pressure on bond prices."

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PE Storage Plant To Get R100m Expansion

February 27 2017  18:10 l   

Cape Town - The expansion of the Port Elizabeth (PE) Cold Storage plant at a cost of R100 million will add a further 20 jobs to the facility. The investment is an addition to the original warehouse investment made during the 2007/08 financial year which totalled R85 million and, since then, the plant has seen its business grow in the process, benefiting a substantial number of families in the Nelson Mandela Bay region through job creation and employment.


Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, head of marketing and communications at the Coega Development Corporation, said the PE Cold Storage plant, located in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), one of the first export orientated investors to locate their facility at the IDZ, is doubling the size of the plant.

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2017 Budget In A NutShell

February 23 2017  18:50 l   

Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had a tough message for South Africans in Wednesday's Budget Speech in the National Assembly, with the introduction of a new tax bracket for the very rich, state debt creeping up and almost all economic indicators and fiscal numbers weaker than in last year's budget.

While South Africa is "once again at a crossroads" and "tough choices have to be made to achieve development outcomes", Gordhan nevertheless tried to stress the need for growth. 

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Local And International Banks Face Prosecution Over Rand Price Fixing

February 15 2017 20:00 l   

Cape Town - The Competition Commission on Wednesday referred a collusion case to the tribunal for prosecution against 17 banks, including three of South Africa's big banks.


The commission said in a statement it has been investigating a case of price-fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the rand since April 2015. It has now referred the case to the tribunal for prosecution.

The banks are Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, Investec Ltd, Standard New York Securities Inc, HSBC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group; Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd, Commerzbank AG; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Nomura International Plc, Macquarie Bank Limited, ABSA Bank Limited (ABSA), Barclays Capital Inc, Barclays Bank plc (Respondents).

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Sekunjalo Injects R500m To Boost Entrepreneurs Within Renewable Energy

February 09 2017  14:15 l   

South African entrepreneurs yesterday received a shot in the arm after Sekunjalo Investment Group committed R500 million to boost renewable energy initiatives and women-owned businesses.

Sekunjalo executive chairman Iqbal Survé said that the Sekunjalo Impact Fund would play a meaningful role in improving their quality of life.

Survé said the company had already made the amount available and extended an invitation to local and international investors to join in raising more money for the fund.

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Drought And Weak Rand Had A Devastating Impact On Employees' Income

January 31 2017  16:25 l   

Cape Town - Salary earners in South Africa have seen a drop in their inflation adjusted salaries for a seventh straight month in December, the latest BankservAfrica Disposable Salary Index (BDSI) released on Tuesday showed.

According to Dr Caroline Belrose, head of information services at BankservAfrica, the weak rand and drought had a devastating impact on real incomes of employees and their families as inflation hurt consumers’ pockets.

On a year-on-year level, disposable salaries in December 2016 were lower than in December 2015 and 2014.

Full Article

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The Rand is Undervalued By 62.70%, According To The Economist Index

January 23  2017 13:45 l   

Johannesburg – The rand should be trading at R5.20 to the dollar, according to the latest Big Mac Index by The Economist.

According to the index, the rand is undervalued by 62.70%.

The Big Mac Index was put together by The Economist as far back as 1986. It measures whether currencies are at the “correct” level, based on the theory of purchasing power parity (PPP).

PPP suggests that in the long run, exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services, in this case a Big Mac burger, in any two countries

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There Is An Urgent Need To Restore Compact Between Business And Society - WEF 

January 18  2017  21:30 l   

Davos - Business leaders at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting agreed that there was an urgent need to restore the compact between business and society.

Jim Hagemann Snabe, member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum said there was a crisis of confidence in leadership and that companies needed to be responsive and responsible to all their stakeholders.

"We have an opportunity to reinvent how we do business, to refocus our efforts towards ensuring long-term sustainability," he said.

Full Story

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Manufacturers In SA Concerned Over Subdued Business Sentiment 

January 12  2017  21:30 l   

Manufacturers in SA are concerned at the subdued business sentiment reflected in the latest Barclays Purchasing Managers’ Index for December 2016, released on Thursday. Industry body, the Manufacturing Circle, said the index, which provides a reliable guide to sentiment within the manufacturing sector, had not shown an improvement in demand in several months.

"At 46.7 index points, the South African index has remained below the neutral 50-point measure for the fifth month in a row — in contrast to a global upward trend," it said.

Full Article

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SA Is Not Producing Enough School Leavers Competent In Maths And Science 

January 10  2017  11:30 l   

ANC Pinning Hope On Government's Black Industrialist Programme 

January 09  2017  12:10 l   

Cape Town  – The ANC is pinning its hopes on government’s Black Industrialists Programme, launched in 2016, to increase the black majority’s ownership of the economy. 

Hlaudi's Appointment Ruled Unlawful 

December 12  2016  15:10 l   

Cape Town - The Western Cape High court has ruled that Hlaudi Motsoaneng’s appointment as the SABC's group executive of corporate affairs as irrational and unlawful.

Econet Wireless Introduces Rand Wallet In Zimbabwe 

December 08  2016  16:40 l   

Harare – South Africa’s currency could effectively start circulating in Zimbabwe as mobile network Econet Wireless introduces rand wallet on its mobile money platform in the country.

Aarto System Has Become A Challenge For Traffic Fines Collections 

November 14  2016  14:50 l   

The cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane no longer want to be test cases for the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) system over its enforcement issues and disappointing traffic fine collections.
Medium-Term Budget 2016 In A Nutshell 

October 26  2016  19:00 l   

Cape Town – South Africa is in a difficult economic transitional phase and consolidation and balance will be the key words regarding government finances over the next three years. That was the core 

Google Data Request On The Rise From Governments 

October 13  2016  10:00 l   

Washington - Google said Wednesday that data requests from governments around the world hit a record high in the six months ending in June, extending a steady rise.

President Zuma Officially Appointed Busisiwe Mkhwebane As New Public Protector

October 06  2016  10:10 l   

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has officially appointed advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane as the new public protector for the next seven years, the Presidency said on Thursday.

SA Borders Needs To Be Protected From Illegal Immigrants And Their Illegal Businesses -JHB Mayor Herman Mashaba

October 04  2016  13:40 l   

JOHANNESBURG mayor Herman Mashaba has called for SA to strengthen its borders, saying it needs to be protected from illegal immigrants and their illegal businesses.

The Economy Must Be Controlled By Black Majority-Minister Brown

September 27  2016  18:10 l   

Johannesburg – The economy must be controlled by the black majority, said Minister of Public Enterprise, Lynne Brown.  Brown spoke to media briefly following a closed meeting with the Black 

Apple Linked With Buying Supercar Maker McLaren

September 22  2016  18:00 l   

Apple has been linked with a shock £1.5bn deal to buy McLaren Technology Group, the Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

A deal between Apple and the British company would dramatically shake up the technology and automotive industries. The California-based company’s interest in McLaren Technology Group highlights its ambition to develop technology that could be used in an electric and driverless car.

Full Story

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SAA Financial Statements For The 2014/2015 Show R5.6bn Loss

September 20  2016  21:40 l   

Cape Town - SAA’s losses for the 2014/15 financial year was R5.6bn — close to R1bn more than the expected amount of R4.7bn. 

Bank Of England Introduces Plastic Banknotes

September 13  2016  20:20 l   

London - The Bank of England introduced its first plastic banknotes on Tuesday, with a new five pound entering circulation in England and Wales featuring World War Two leader Winston Churchill.

AfriHost To Offer Free Daily 18 hour Internet Promotion

September 08  2016  17:00 l   

Johannesburg - Internet service provider Afrihost has attempted to shake up the local ADSL market with a promotion that offers free daily 18 hour internet.

MTN Zakhele Futhi R9.9 billion BEE Transaction Starting 12th September

September 07  2016  11:40 l   

Zakhele Futhi is a special purpose vehicle which will hold approximately 4% equity in the MTN Group. The new share scheme will give qualifying black participants a discounted way to own MTN  
Futuregrowth Should Have Raised Concerns With SOEs Before Going Public - Ralph Mupita

 September 06  2016  21:00 l   

Cape Town - Futuregrowth, the asset manager which withdrew funding to six of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), should have raised their concerns directly with these entities and not gone to the media, said Ralph Mupita, CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets. Full Story

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SA Steel Industry About To Collapse Due To Chinese Dumping

 August 30  2016  22:20 l   

Cape Town - Trade union Solidarity is calling for urgent preventative measures to stop Chinese dumping in the steel industry, which has already suffered about 11 000 job losses last year.
SA Healthcare Industry And Medical Schemes in Collusion -Cosatu

 August 26  2016  15:40 l   

Cape Town - In an open letter to the Competition Commission, Cosatu has accused the South African healthcare industry and medical schemes of collusion with regards to the availability of cancer screening tests. Full Story

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MTN To Unveil A R9.9bn BEE Zakhele Futhi Transaction In September 

 August 22  2016  12:00 l   

Johannesburg - Mobile network MTN is set to unveil a R9.9bn black economic empowerment transaction dubbed MTN Zakhele Futhi.
SA Agric Export Declined In 2015 Due To Drought  

 August 19  2016  17:40 l   

SA’s worst drought in decades has cost the country billions of rand in lost export revenue, data showed on Friday.



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