Solal maker announces acting CEO and chair - and a possible rights issue

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Ascendis CEO Mark Sardi's resignation will be in effect from 31 December 2021
Ascendis CEO Mark Sardi's resignation will be in effect from 31 December 2021
Picture supplied by Ascendis
  • Ascendis Health's CEO Mark Sardi resigned in October.
  • Sardi will be replaced by Ascendis’ independent non-executive chairperson Andrew Marshall, who will serve as the acting CEO from January 2022.
  • Marshall has previously held the CEO position at fishing company Oceana Group, package maker Nampak and a five-month acting stint at Ascendis in 2019.

Wellness company Ascendis Health’s share price plunged almost 11% on Wednesday afternoon following its announcement that it had appointed an acting CEO and an acting chairperson.

The announcement comes after Mark Sardi’s resignation in October. Sardi’s resignation will be in effect at the end of this month, and he will be replaced by Ascendis’ independent non-executive chairperson Andrew Marshall, who will serve as the acting CEO from January 2022.

Sardi, who has been at the helm of the company since 2019, will be available to advise the company and assist with a smooth leadership transition, until June 2022. The group has begun the recruitment process for a new CEO.

Marshall has previously held the CEO position at fishing company Oceana Group, package maker Nampak and a five-month acting stint at Ascendis in 2019. Lead independent non-executive director, Bharti Harie, will replace Marshall as acting chairperson in January 2022.

Ascendis concluded a recapitalisation agreement in October, enabling it to repay its R7.7 billion debt. As part of the deal, the group - which also owns the Junglevites and Vitaforce brands - transferred its Cyprus-based pharmaceutical company Remedica and its Romania-based Sun Wave Pharma businesses to its lenders.

The wellness company also sold its Respiratory Care Africa business in October, as well as its animal health business. The proceeds of both disposals will also go to the lenders. In return, Ascendis has a €15 million debt facility and an additional €20 million for transaction and head office restructuring costs, as well as working capital, from the deal.

"As previously communicated, the Board is considering whether Ascendis Health should remain a listed entity, given the reduced scale of its post-group recapitalisation business, the costs associated with being listed and the limited availability of capital for growth," said Ascendis in its statement.

It explained that it may need to dispose of one or more of its businesses and have a rights issue to raise capital. The company’s board is currently evaluating offers for its Ascendis Pharma business and the transaction is likely to conclude by the end of February 2022.

"The proceeds from the disposal of Ascendis Pharma will be used to partially repay the group’s existing debt and this is expected to reduce the group’s gearing to within a 2.0 times debt to sustainable earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation level," the company said. 

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