South Africa Lobby Group Rejects Capitec Offer on Viceroy Report

(Bloomberg) -- Business Leadership South Africa, a lobby group made up of some of the country’s largest companies, said it turned down an offer from Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. to pay for a report on short seller Viceroy Research, which had earlier in the year targeted the lender.

Following conversations with Capitec Chief Executive Officer Gerrie Fourie, who offered to pay for the research, BLSA decided it wanted to own the report and declined, Bonang Mohale, CEO of of the business group, said by phone on Friday. It’s “absolutely true” that there were emails about the matter between the two CEOs, as reported by Johannesburg-based Business Day, but BLSA commissioned and paid for the report, he said.

Research company Intellidex (Pty) Ltd. produced the 49-page document for BLSA in July. On its unverified Twitter account, Viceroy called it a “smear piece” and refuted some of its findings. Viceroy first came to the fore in the country in December when it released a critical report on Steinhoff International Holdings NV the day after the retailer uncovered accounting irregularities. At the end of January, it published a piece about Capitec that sent the bank’s stock tumbling and prompted the central bank to step in and defend the lender.

Capitec, South Africa’s fastest-growing bank and a BLSA member, didn’t contribute to Intellidex’s fees, spokesman Charl Nel said on Friday. BLSA contracted and paid Intellidex, according to the research company’s chairman, Stuart Theobald.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.