S. Africa Probes Trades in Month Bidvest Made Adcock Offer

South African regulators will investigate trading in shares of Bidvest Group Ltd. and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd. during March, the month Bidvest made an offer for a 60 percent stake in the drugmaker.

The Financial Services Board’s division for market abuse will lead the probe and may refer cases of suspected insider trading to the regulator’s enforcement committee, which can fine the guilty parties, the FSB said in an e-mailed statement. The FSB will only disclose names of the parties being investigated once the findings are complete, Solly Keetse, a spokesman for the FSB’s Directorate of Market Abuse, said by phone from Pretoria. An update on the case will be given on Oct. 2, he said.

“There is always the possibility of information leaked before a deal is announced, and I think the FSB are just trying to make sure there was no wrongdoing,” Henre Herselman, a derivatives trader at Nedbank Private Wealth, said by phone in Johannesburg. “They are very good at monitoring these things as the credibility of the stock exchange is at stake.”

Highest Price

Bidvest, which operates businesses from cleaning and car sales to coal export terminals, offered to pay about 6.2 billion rand ($612 million) to buy the stake in Adcock on March 22, sending Adcock’s shares to their highest price in more than two years.

About 4 million Adcock shares traded that day, or more than seven times the three-month daily average at the time. About 5 million shares traded on March 15, the heaviest daily volume that month before the announcement, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Adcock shares rallied 8.4 percent in March, while Bidvest added 1.8 percent. Johannesburg’s benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index gained 0.4 percent in the month.

February trading in Cipla Medpro South Africa Ltd., the country’s third-largest drugmaker, is also being investigated, the FSB said. Cipla Ltd., the Indian drugmaker which makes generic HIV treatments, offered to buy all ordinary shares of Medpro at 10 rand a share on Feb. 28. Cipla Medpro rose 5.4 percent in February, while the All Share Index fell 1.9 percent.