* Chairman says matter 'not material'
* CEO suspended on Wednesday over 'serious allegations'
* Shares down more than 5 pct
CAPE TOWN, Aug 16 South African drug maker Cipla
Medpro said on Thursday the suspension of its chief
executive was not based on any major financial wrong-doing, even
as nervous investors sent its shares sharply lower.
South Africa's third-largest pharmaceutical firm said late
on Wednesday it had suspended company founder Jerome Smith
pending an investigation into 'serious allegations', without
identifying the charges.
Chairman Sbu Luthuli declined to give details at the
company's earnings presentation in Cape Town on Thursday.
"We can't disclose the nature and specifics, but I want to
assure everyone that the matter is serious. But from a monetary
value, if you look at the company, it is not material," he said.
"I want you to be at ease. You are not going to think that
suddenly there is 100 million rand ($12 million) missing from
Investors nonetheless sent shares of the $450 million drug
maker sharply lower. The shares were down 5.8 percent at 7.80
rand at 1019 GMT, after earlier falling more than 10 percent.
Luthuli said the investigation would not impact Cipla
Medpro's supply agreement with Indian drug giant Cipla Ltd
Cipla Medpro has appointed Johan du Preez, an independent
non-executive director, as acting chief executive, pending the
outcome of the investigation.
Separately, the company reported a 31 percent increase in
first-half earnings on Thursday.
($1 = 8.2248 South African rand)
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by