Flash Briefing: SA destroys 2m ‘contaminated’ J&J Covid vaccines; Musk takes on Wierzycka after BizNews interview

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  • South Africa will dispose of two million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines following a US ruling that ingredients for the country’s doses may have been contaminated during production in a plant in Baltimore, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa. The news marks a major setback in the country’s vaccine rollout just as a third wave of infections is gathering pace. However, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, Africa largest drugmaker, is set to begin the production of new J&J vaccines by mid-week.
  • Alexander Forbes has agreed to sell its Life business to Sanlam as part of its strategy to focus on its core retirements, savings and investments business. It is on the hunt for businesses to acquire to build out its employee-benefits offering after finalising plans to exit its insurance arm in a deal worth about R100m.
  • Fulvio Tonelli has been elected chairman of South Africa’s Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, the Ministry of Finance says. Earlier this year finance minister Tito Mboweni dissolved the entire board of the watchdog that investigates auditing failures in corporate SA. Tonelli, a chartered accountant and former registered auditor, is a non-executive director of Absa and previously served as audit partner at Standard Bank and FirstRand Group, says Bloomberg, quoting the Ministry. Naidene Ford-Hoon, an independent consultant and former head of advisory services at Firstrand and ex-chief financial officer at the South African Reserve Bank, will serve as deputy. Under Tonelli, the board’s immediate task is to “initiate a process to elect and appoint the new CEO and to work with management to restore staff morale,” the ministry said.
  • South Africa-born Tesla founder Elon Musk has hit back at South African financial services entrepreneur Magda Wierzycka over allegations, in a BizNews interview, that he manipulated the price of Bitcoin for his own purposes. In a Tweet, Musk responded to Wierzycka’s allegation that he has engaged in a ‘pump and dump’ tactic, the entrepreneur who has been driving the prices of cryptocurrencies said: “This is inaccurate. Tesla only sold ~10% of holdings to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market … When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions.’

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