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Aspen pares declines as Viceroy said to have no report imminent

Company has addressed all issues raised, CEO says.

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings pared the biggest decline in two months in Johannesburg trading as speculation eased that the South African drugmaker is about to be the subject of a report by short-seller Viceroy Research.

Aspen was 3.1% lower as of 2:20 pm after falling as much as 9.9%, the most intraday since January 9, on volumes triple the daily average for the past three months. Viceroy has no report on Aspen imminent, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.

Aspen share performance

Speculation that Aspen could be a Viceroy target first emerged in January, prompting a slump of as much as 12% in its shares before they recovered. The stock dropped 5.1% on Monday as suggestions resurfaced of a report by the short seller, which flagged financial irregularities at retailer Steinhoff International Holdings and accused Capitec Bank Holdings of concealing loan losses and underestimating bad debts. Aspen said it has addressed all issues raised about the company.

Talk of a Viceroy report is “just rumour and speculation, but the market is reacting to it and selling some Aspen,” said Petri Redelinghuys, founder of Johannesburg-based stockbroker Herenya Capital Advisors. 

Aspen, which first faced suggestions it could be the subject of a Viceroy report in January, dealt with potential issues around its financial statements when it published results on March 9, chief executive officer Stephen Saad said on Tuesday in answer to questions.

“We have been very clear in our response to all in our presentation,” Saad said. “Simply put, we have shared all we know with investors. I believe we effectively addressed all issues raised. We simply have no off-balance sheet finance. Historic speculation on Aspen proved misplaced. We simply can’t comment beyond this.”

© 2018 Bloomberg 

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