Flash Briefing: Huge’s Adapt IT bid gets ugly; African Covid-19 vaccines; Nedbank to support renewable energy

  • South Africa plans to begin issuing Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to the general public next month after settling a contractual dispute with the US drugmaker. The outstanding matters relating to the order for 31 million doses were resolved “without compromising the position of South Africa,” Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, an acting minister in the presidency, told reporters following the cabinet’s bi-monthly meeting on Thursday. South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told parliament last week that J&J wouldn’t sign off on the deal until it received greater assurance of support from the state. The terms insisted on by the company were at times “unreasonable,” he said.
  • The Huge Group has been ordered to removed videos from the public domain in which it attacks the motives of Adapt IT’s management related to an offer from Volaris to acquire the company, reports MyBroadband.co.za. In the videos, Huge Group questioned the motives of Adapt IT CEO Sbu Shabalala and other Adapt IT executives says the technology news website. Shabalala previously said they were “very interested” in the Volaris transaction as it gave shareholders a significant premium on the prevailing share price. Huge Group, which has also made an offer to Adapt IT shareholders, questioned the Shabalala and other Adapt IT executives’ motives in the videos. Huge Group CEO James Herbst told MyBroadband Huge and Adapt IT are “better off together” and will create more value for shareholders than the Volaris deal. Herbst added that Shabalala’s comment that Adapt IT shareholders can take the cash from the Volaris deal and buy Huge Group shares appears to be self-serving. After the video was published and distributed on platforms like LinkedIn and its own website, the Takeover Regulation Panel (TRP) informed Huge Group that the video constitutes “announcements”. This means Huge Group should have sought approval from the TRP prior to its publication, says MyBroadband. Huge has subsequently removed the video from its website and retracted the statements they contain. “The board accepts responsibility for the information contained in this announcement insofar as it relates to Huge,” the company said in a statement. “To the best of its knowledge and belief, the information contained in this announcement is true and the announcement does not omit anything likely to affect the importance of the information.”
  • Netcare expects first-half core profit to be down 36% to 38% from a year earlier after a second wave of Covid-19 forced it to suspend elective surgery in favour of necessary and time-sensitive procedures, it said on Thursday. Reuters reports that revenue in the six months to March 31 is expected to be between 5.5% and 6.5% lower. Netcare suspended elective surgery between Dec. 19 and the third week of January when a more severe, nationwide Covid-19 variant became more pronounced.
  • Nedbank will stop funding new thermal coal mines by 2025 and halt direct funding of new oil and gas exploration as it plans to phase out fossil fuel exposure over the next 24 years, it said on Thursday. South African lenders – among the biggest banks in the continent – face pressure from environmental groups to stop funding fossil fuel-based projects viewed as a major risk to global plans to tackle climate change, says Reuters. Nedbank, one of the country’s four biggest banks, said it aimed to have zero exposure to all activities related to fossil fuels by 2045 and to accelerate financing of renewable energy. “Nedbank’s energy policy serves to guide the bank’s transition away from fossil fuels while still providing appropriate support to existing energy requirements,” said Nedbank chief financial officer Mike Davis.
  • Bloomberg reports that the African Union’s disease control body and World Health Organisation on Thursday urged African countries not to waste Covid-19 vaccines donated to them, after confusion in Malawi and South Sudan about whether doses they received had expired. “My appeal to member states is: if we are doing our part to mobilise these vaccines, you do your part and use the vaccines,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a news conference. Malawi has said it plans to destroy more than 16,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India because the shots were not administered before the April 13 expiry date on the packaging. The doses were supplied via the AU thanks to a donation from telecoms group MTN. South Sudan has set aside 59,000 doses supplied by the AU and is not using them because of the same expiry issue, a government official told Reuters last week. But Nkengasong, the continent’s top public health official, said the Africa CDC had informed countries receiving the donations that the shots could be used until July 13, based on a further analysis conducted by the Serum Institute.

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