SOUTH AFRICA – Ascendis Health’s private-equity backer, Coast2Coast, has sold an additional 11.5% stake in the healthcare company effectively reducing its stake in Ascendis to just 14%.

Coast2Coast through its subsidiary Gane Holdings, owned 25.5% of Ascendis in December 2018, and a year before, it held 30.9% of the company.

The private equity group has been forced to offload large chunks of Ascendis shares in recent months to meet obligations to lenders, since the stock was used as collateral for loans, reports Business Day.

This comes about a month after Coast2Coast representative on Ascendis’ board, Gary Shayne, stepped down after serving in the board since its founding.

Shayne is the majority beneficial owner and chief executive of Coast2Coast Capital, which founded Ascendis in 2008 and listed it on the JSE in November 2013.

Following major retirements and resignation on its board, Ascendis also recently announced the appointment of three board members.

John A Bester, who retired from the board as chair and independent non-executive director was replaced by Andrew Marshall.

Phildon Roux was also appointed to the board as an independent non-executive director. Ascendis said Marshall had 15 years’ experience as a chief executive of Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed companies, including Oceana Group and Nampak.

“He currently serves as the Chairman of Ster-Kinekor. He is a highly experienced and respected corporate leader with a track record of delivering operational results and sound capital allocation,” the announcement said.

According to the statement by Ascendis, Roux had 28 years’ experience in consumer businesses, most recently as chief executive officer of Pioneer Foods in addition to serving on the board of Tiger Brands.

“He is currently Chairman of TiAuto Investments, the holding company of Tiger Wheel and Tyre. He brings extensive experience and a track record of delivering results in some of South Africa’s largest FMCG companies,” the statement said.

The troubled health care firm is considering an offer for its Remedica unit and is also said to be planning the sale of other key businesses as the South African company battles to service debt and ensure survival.

The debt-laden maker of multivitamins, probiotics and pet nutritional supplements received an unsolicited offer for Cyprian unit Remedica in April, reports Bloombeerg.

The Remedica business has been valued by Ascendis at about US$400 million, compared with a 2016 purchase price of US$295 million.

Ascendis has also started a review of its business to bring down total liabilities of more than US$635.6 million (R9 billion).