Ascendis Health eyes NHI for growth

Health and wellness company Ascendis looks to private-public collaboration to grow.

Ascendis Health has identified the National Health Insurance (NHI) as a growth opportunity following its recent experience supporting government efforts during the Covid-19 crisis.

The supplier of ventilators and nasal high flow devices experienced a 16 percent year-on-year growth, as demand for these devices rose for Covid-19 patients. This growth affirmed the company’s decision to bank on medical device and pharmaceutical businesses to grow revenue.

CEO Mark Sardi, who has been at the helm of Ascendis for a year now, has been on a mission to chip away at the company’s R6.5 billion debt. The liability was accumulated when the company embarked on an ambitious growth strategy between 2015 and 2017.
The current leadership, in a bid to improve its balance sheet, has sold some of the company’s non-core assets, including a sports nutrition business, out of Hungary to the tune of €5million (R99.5 million).

Locally, Ascendis is selling off its Dezzo Trading business for approximately R25 million, and Ascendis Direct Selling for R10.5 million. It is further hoping that the sale of Remedica, its pharmaceuticals business in Cyprus, which it tried to sell last year, will ease the pressure.

With South Africa planning to roll out its NHI by 2026, Ascendis sees an opportunity to deploy its resources and expertise in the delivery of public health services, further opening new avenues for growth.