Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Ascendis Health, whose shares have slumped on concerns about its debt levels and weak organic growth, says it is considering selling the two remaining businesses in its biosciences division after it offloaded three companies in that unit.

The sale of Afrikelp, Efekto and Marltons, announced in May, is now complete after receiving approval from competition authorities, Ascendis said on Wednesday. The businesses were sold to a consortium comprising RMB Ventures Seven, Nedbank Private Equity and some managers at Ascendis’s biosciences division.

"The two remaining businesses in the Ascendis Health biosciences division, being Avima and Klub M5, are now being considered for divestment," Ascendis said.

Ascendis has also been in talks regarding a possible sale of its Remedica business in Cyprus, for which it received an unsolicited offer. That deal is seen as key to reducing Ascendis’s debt.

Ascendis’s shares have plunged from a high of R28.97 in September 2016 to just R4.93 on Wednesday, a 1.4% fall on the day.

Ascendis’s private equity backer, Coast2Coast, added to pressure on the share price after being forced to sell down its stake to meet obligations to lenders.

The private equity group has been forced to offload large chunks of Ascendis shares in recent months to meet obligations to lenders, as the stock was used as collateral for loans.

Meanwhile, Ascendis said in early June it expected to appoint a new CEO within three months, after the maker of Bettaway vitamins parted ways with its CEO of less than 14 months, Thomas Thomsen.

Chair Andrew Marshall, who has led fishing group Oceana and packaging giant Nampak, and who joined Ascendis in early May, was appointed acting CEO after Thomsen left.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za