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Ascendis keeps growing

Ascendis keeps growing

Cape TOWN-based health care conglomerate Ascends has clinched another acquisition, this time adding the well-known Pharma Natura brands to its fast growing portfolio.

Last month, Ascendis announced that it has bought 100% of Pharma Natura from Guy Wertheim Aymes Family Holdings for R121m – a deal that includes the properties housing the manufacturing facility, warehousing and offices of the company in Malboro, Johannesburg.

This deal follows hard on the heels of the acquisition of Surgical Innovations and AtkaPharma, which were clinched late last year just after the company listed on the JSE.

The Pharma Natura deal looks like a smart move for Ascendis, which is already peddling a diversified range of health supplements and wellness brands like Solal and Nimue.

Pharma Natura was established more than 50 years ago and is recognised as a leading manufacturer and distributor of nutraceuticals. The company specialises in herbal and homeopathic medicine, tissue salts and nutritional supplements through household brands like Vitaforce, Junglevites, Bettaway, Herbaforce and Homeoforce.

Pharma Natura not only manufactures, distributes and sells its own established consumer brands but also manufactures products for recognised third parties under license.

Ascendis CEO Dr Karsten Wellner said the deal collectively enhanced Ascendis’ brand positioning to the retail market and provided the necessary manufacturing scale to allow the company to unlock significant vertical integration benefits for its existing businesses.

The Johannesburg-based factory comprises 12,000m of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified and Medicine Control Council (MCC) licenced 
manufacturing capacity.

Wellner also said the factory would form part of Ascendis’ vertical integration strategy, which includes, where advantageous, bringing the manufacture of group products in-house to optimise synergies and margins.

He said Ascendis intended integrating the Pharma Natura brands into its existing Consumer Brands Division. “By leveraging off Ascendis’ existing health and care platforms and resources, we intend to further develop the Pharma Natura business into a market-leading manufacturer and distributor in SA.”

Wellner commented that this strategy would include increased market penetration, expanding product lines and further consolidation of Ascendis’ consumer brands’ manufacturing requirements.

The Pharma Natura deal coincided with the release of Ascendis’ maiden interim results to end December 2013.

The company performed soundly, reporting revenue up over 100% to R662m and headline earnings of R54m. In the results presentation in Cape Town, Wellner reiterated that it’s reiterated that it was the company’s strategy to acquire businesses for vertical integration or for bolt-on to existing operating platforms.

He said the company still held a health acquisition pipeline, and hinted that acquisitions in the medical devices segment as well as in offshore markets were on the cards this year.

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