VENTURES AFRICA – The South Africa government is expected to publish a request for information from potential international, domestic technology and investment partners on Friday for its pharmaceutical company after Swiss investor Lonza, pulled out.
The state-owned pharmaceutical company will manufacture key ingredients for AIDS drugs.
Bussiness Day (SA) reported on Friday that the department of science and technology’s director general, Phil Mjwara, said the withdrawal would delay the Ketlaphela project, but that many South African companies were interested.
The newspaper quoted Mjwara as saying the Lonza wanted to use the company’s resources in ‘other’ areas.
However, Lonza spokesperson Dominik Werner denied the allegations. He told the newspaper the withdrawal was because of commercial reasons.
“It is correct that we are not talking about direct investments any more for commercial reasons following our Focus & Deliver initiative,” Werner said.
“Lonza… continues to be interested in providing engineering expertise and services on a consulting basis.”
Ketlaphela is a joint venture between Pelchem, a state-owned company, and the Industrial Development Corporation. Ketlaphela is a joint venture between Pelchem, the only fluorochemical company in the southern hemisphere, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). South Africa has the world’s second biggest fluorspar reserves, most of which is exported and beneficiated elsewhere.
At the launch of the initiative in February 2012, former science minister Naledi Pandor said Lonza would invest more than US$ 50 000 (R50 million) in the US$1.6million (R 1.6 billion) project.
A source in the medical fraternity who spoke on condition of anonymity told Ventures Africa that the withdrawal of Lonza was “likely to make the project off the rail.”
Close to 2-million people receive AIDS treatment at government clinics. This figure is expected to reach 2.5-million by 2015.
The government purchases most of the generic AIDS drugs from local manufacturers. The APIs used in these drugs are sourced primarily from India and China, leaving manufacturers vulnerable to supply shortages.http://www.ventures-africa.com