You don’t have to scratch too far into the history of Ascendis Health before getting the feeling you’re reading about the corporate equivalent of a banana republic. The sort of place that has semi-regular coups resulting in guerrillas swapping places with the government every year or so. Only, in the corporate world the guerrillas are called shareholder activists, and the government is the board.

Inevitably, changes of the guard are accompanied by earnest commitments about unlocking shareholder value; and almost inevitably, no such unlocking is achieved — the share has plummeted from R28 to 80c. It’s not that the group hasn’t been through a lot of action during its 10 years as a listed entity, either...

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