Aspen CEO Stephen Saad appeared relieved when the FM met him at Investec’s offices this week, after the release of the pharmaceutical group’s year-end results. After a bruising few months on the JSE, Saad’s group has made good on its two main promises: cutting its debt and bumping up its cash.

It can’t have been easy. Still, Aspen sliced a R14.5bn chunk off its mountainous borrowings, taking the total to R39bn at the end of June. It did this by selling its infant nutrition business, canning its dividend and squeezing more cash out of its assets...

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