One of Business Leadership SA’s (BLSA’s) most prominent members this year got itself into an unnecessary pickle that inadvertently made it a lightning rod for scepticism about the credibility of research issued by bank analysts. It’s almost a decade after the outbreak of the financial crisis brought the issue back to the fore, having been initially highlighted at the turn of the century when the technology bubble burst. The crash led to serious questions, not to mention criminal investigations, into brokers that had been punting companies they knew to be complete duds. They seemed to be motivated by the need to secure lucrative trading and other relationships for their banks, rather than to act in the interests of the investors they were supposed to advise. About six weeks ago an Investec analyst wrote a critical report on KwaZulu-Natal-based sugar producer Tongaat Hulett, calling for the long-serving CEO Peter Staude to quit over what he called an "appalling" set of results...

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