Mark Sardi steps down as Ascendis CEO while the company commences recapitalization

SOUTH AFRICA – Ascendis Health has announced that Mark Sardi has resigned as chief executive of the South African health and well-being company with effect from December 31, in the wake of getting shareholder approval for the group’s recapitalization.

Earlier this month, shareholders voted in favor of the recapitalization, which aims to settle outstanding debt of approximately €444 million (more than R7.6 billion) owed to senior lenders.

The firm said Sardi had joined the company in October 2019 with a mandate to turn Ascendis Health around operationally and fix the balance sheet.

In his two years with the group the leverage had been reduced by R7.5bn in a debt for assets swap, in a highly complex and unusual transaction in the South African listed sector.

Total normalized earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda) grew 32 percent per annum from R827m to R1.446bn; while normalized Ebitda from continuing operations, which were, the Ascendis Health assets that remained post the group recapitalization, grew 82 percent on a compound basis between 2019 and 2021.

Ascendis says Sardi had navigated a challenging liquidity environment during Covid-19 to successfully service high levels of patient demand and play a meaningful role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in South Africa.

Under Sardi, strategy and business plans had been set in the group’s remaining operations to continue capitalising on earnings momentum and drive shareholder value.

We’d like to thank Mark for all his efforts and success in turning the group around and fixing the balance sheet. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavors,” the firm said.

The board of directors of Ascendis Health said it was reviewing various options to replace Sardi given the new structure and size of Ascendis Health post the group recapitalization.

The firm is now considering taking the company private as an option in the short-to-medium-term after it completes the recapitalization.

When the recapitalization is complete, the lenders will also provide a new two-year drawdown term loan facility to the group in the rand equivalent amount of €20m.

Under that recapitalization programme the lenders required the group to sell all the assets in the group except for Farmalider, Pharma South Africa and Consumer South Africa.

Farmalinder is a Spanish pharmaceutical company that develops, licenses and supplies mainly generic and over-the-counter products to a range of multinational companies.

Ascendis said the current recapitalisation proposal offered improved value prospects for shareholders due to the shared upside on the disposal of Farmalider, together with exclusive access to Farmalider’s value enhancing product portfolio.

The licensing agreement concluded as part of the disposal process gives Pharma access to all Farmalider products, 40 of which have been identified for commercialization,” said Ascendis.

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