Aspen Pharmacare advised shareholders on Thursday that the company was engaged in discussions with a potential partner in Europe. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Aspen Pharmacare advised shareholders on Thursday that the company was engaged in discussions with a potential partner in Europe. 

The share price rose 0.76 percent on the JSE on Thursday and closed at R104.29. 

This was after the South African drugmaker in its interim results announcement on March 7 said it had embarked on a strategic review of its European and South African commercial pharmaceuticals businesses. 

The firm has been trying to reduce its debt burden. 

Aspen deputy chief executive Gus Attridge in March admitted the group had high debt levels. 

“We are quite aware of the debt and we are working hard on reducing it. We have spent significantly in the past by expanding the business on new investments. However, the expected sale of the nutritionals business will enable us to put all our focus on pharmaceuticals. We are going to use the proceeds of that sale of around R10billion to reduce debt,” Attridge said. 

Lactalis International of France agreed to buy the division in September for 740m (R12.05bn), but the disposal had hit regulatory delays, causing investor jitters. 

However Aspen last week said the sale of its infant-formula business had finally been approved by a New Zealand regulator. On Monday, Aspen said Mylan had exercised an option to buy the company’s portfolio of prescription and over-the-counter products in Australia for A$188 million (R1.86bn). 

BUSINESS REPORT