Africa’s largest drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare, whose shares have lost 72% of their value since the beginning of 2018, said on Tuesday sales of noncore assets had resulted in its net debt falling by almost a quarter to R40bn over a period of six months.

Aspen’s share price shot up 12% to R86.04 on Tuesday morning, with the company further warning of an up to 17% fall in headline earnings per share (Heps) for the year to end-June.

The blue-chip counter is selling off noncore assets to deal with its debt mountain, and has recently faced a hefty competition-related fine in the UK.

Despite marginal improvement in revenue in its emerging markets, Aspen said that revenue would either be flat or fall 3% in the year to end-June at constant exchange rates.

Normalised Heps was expected to fall 7%-11%, while normalised Heps from continuing operations would fall 5%-9%.

HEPS would fall 13%-17% to a range of 1,224c and 1,283c a share as a result of litigation, restructuring and transaction costs, the company said.

In May, the company finalised the sale of its portfolio of prescription and over-the-counter drugs sold mainly in Australia and New Zealand to Mylan, for a maximum consideration of A$188m (R1.9bn).

In June, it finalised the sale off its nutritionals business to French company Lactalis, resulting in a net cash inflow of €635m (R10.6bn).

Net debt has fallen to R40bn as of the end of June, from R53.2bn as the end of December, the company’s half-year.


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