Capital flows North. Ascendis Health spends R7.3bn on two acquisitions in Europe.

The search for value and growth continues to head offshore as locally listed Ascendis Health acquired two European companies. This after last year’s acquisition of Spanish pharmaceutical company Farmalier S.A. South African corporate cash piles reached a record level of R725 billion, with concerns that local conditions don’t offer stable, attractive investment returns. And one of the avenues of spend, was deemed to be offshore, which saw Ascendis spend a combined value of R7.3 billion on the new acquisitions. One wonders when government will hear the message through these actions of corporates and individuals. The dripping tap is slowly being opened. – Stuart Lowman

JOHANNESBURG, May 24 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Ascendis Health Ltd said on Tuesday it bought two European companies as part of its plan to expand globally and diversify its pharmaceutical products, sending its shares higher.

The health and care company will buy Cyprus-based pharmaceutical firm Remedica Holdings Ltd for between 260 million euros ($291 million) and 335 million euros and sports nutrition company Scitec International for 170 million euros.

Remedica

Ascendis shares rose 2.95 percent to 23 rand.

The firm – which bought Spanish pharmaceutical company Farmalier S.A. in August last year – said it received the backing of 63 percent of its shareholders for the acquisitions which will be funded through a combination of debt, shares and proceeds from a rights issue.

Shareholders and new investors supported Ascendis’ proposed rights offer of 1.8 billion rand, the company said.

Ascendis media statement

Johannesburg – Ascendis Health today announced the separate acquisitions of two major European health and care businesses, Remedica Holdings and Scitec International, as the group’s international growth strategy continues to gain momentum.

Remedica, a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer based in Cyprus, will be acquired for c.R4.4 billion (€260 million) in addition to a maximum earn-out of c.R1.3 billion (€75 million) after 3 years. Scitec International, a leading European sports nutrition company will be acquired for R2.9 billion (€170 million).

Dr Karsten Wellner
Dr Karsten Wellner

Ascendis Health CEO Dr Karsten Wellner said: “Our strategy is to complement growth in the domestic health and care market through international expansion and by acquiring platform businesses offshore. These acquisitions in the European Union will be game changing for Ascendis and position us as an international health and care business of scale, offering an excellent Rand hedge for our South African based business.”

Following the acquisitions, approximately half of Ascendis’ sales will be generated by foreign operations and products will be sold in c.144 countries. Ascendis completed its first offshore acquisition in August 2015 with the purchase of an initial 49% stake in Spanish pharmaceutical company Farmalider.

Dr Wellner said the two acquisitions are expected to have a material financial impact and increase Ascendis’ earnings per share by greater than 50%, as demonstrated through Ascendis Health’s announced pro-forma financials.

Remedica:

Remedica supplies over 300 generic pharmaceutical products to c.100 countries, primarily in emerging markets including the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America. It supplies essential medicines such as malaria treatment and antibiotics to global non-governmental organisations, including reputable institutions such as the World Health Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Red Cross.

Remedica manufactures its products from five GMP accredited manufacturing facilities in Cyprus, including a newly constructed world-class oncology facility. The business has a strong pipeline of specialty disease drugs, particularly oncology and HIV, which are expected to be launched over the next three years.

“Remedica will transform Ascendis’ Pharma-Med division into an international pharma player,” said Dr Wellner. “The business creates a strategic platform for international expansion and growth in the generic pharmaceutical industry in both Europe and emerging markets. The manufacturing facilities can also be used by our other recently acquired pharma businesses Akacia Healthcare, in South Africa, and Farmalider, in Spain.”

He said Remedica has a strong management team, with the CEO committed to remaining in the business for at least the next three years.

Scitec:

Ascendis Health LogoScitec Nutrition ranks among the leading sports nutrition brands across Europe, with a key presence in major markets like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Poland. The company’s products are also well represented in the Middle East, Russia, Australia and Asia, with sales recently launched in the USA. The company employs a combined distribution strategy of own sales representatives, own retail and distributor partners, depending on the country.

Its wide range of sports nutrition products, targeted at functional fitness, strength training and well-being, are marketed in nearly 90 countries worldwide. Scitec is vertically integrated and owns a modern manufacturing facility in the European Union, where the company produces over 280 products. The facility, which is GMP certified and US FDA registered, has recently been upgraded to increase capacity for growth.

“Scitec Nutrition is a great brand and is well established in key global sports nutrition markets. This acquisition complements our global strategy as it provides a platform for international expansion in the sports nutrition and wellness industry.”

“We will have the opportunity to accelerate the offshore expansion of the Ascendis sport nutrition brands, Evox and SSN, and will look to grow Scitec’s sales in Africa. The acquisition also provides the opportunity to extract synergies in research and development, production and the procurement of whey protein,” said Dr Wellner.

The two transactions will be funded through a combination of new debt facilities of c.€180 million, a fully underwritten rights offer of c.R1.2 billion and vendor placements totaling c.R1.2 billion. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has committed US$30 million while another international investor has committed R180 million as part of the vendor placement.

“The introduction of the IFC as a strategic long-term shareholder illustrates Ascendis’ global development and we believe is an endorsement of our international strategy based on great health and care brands.”

The transactions are subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, including the JSE and SA Reserve Bank. Ascendis shareholders representing c.63% of the shares in issue have formally supported the transactions. The effective date of the transactions is expected to be 01 August 2016.