After a brief lull in corporate activity, healthcare conglomerate Ascendis looks to be back on the acquisition trail. On Monday, Ascendis, which has a market capitalisation of more than R9bn, announced the acquisition of the Southern African veterinary operations of Cipla India for R375m. This follows a decision by pharmaceuticals giant Cipla India to focus on human healthcare only in SA. The deal shows Ascendis is determined to build up its Phyto-Vet division. The company’s big deals in the past 18 months have been mainly on the consumer brands side and in pharmaceuticals — including bold acquisitions offshore. Ascendis CEO Karsten Wellner said the Cipla animal health businesses would allow the company to expand into the attractive veterinary drug market with high-margin products. He said the Cipla operations would add therapeutic products to Ascendis’ portfolio. Cipla Vet has a strong presence in antibiotics, endoparasiticides and ectoparasiticides with brands like Triworm and Pet...

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