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Cipla’s CEO projects good returns for shareholders

The company is in the process of formulating a strategy to enable it achieve short term and long-term goals

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Shareholders of Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited (CQCIL) are waiting to see how their company performs during the reign of the new chief executive officer Ajay Kumar Pal, who is promising better returns.

Kumar succeeded Nevin Bradford, who retired after serving the company for eight years.

“Whereas I will be seeking to consolidate, I will be pushing new lines to transform Cipla for today and for the future,” he told The Independent through online responses.

Kumar has been with Cipla Quality Chemicals since February 2020, serving as chief operating officer. Before coming to Uganda, he served as a senior director, head of manufacturing at Cipla South Africa.

He said, his immediate priority is to turn the business into a profitable entity after which he will focus on sustainability and profitable growth.

“We are in the process of formulating a strategy which will enable us achieve our short term and long-term goals, improve agility of the business,” he said, adding, a big focus will be on putting in place a solid governance framework.”

Kumar said, this will partly make the company stronger given that it is operating in a competitive segment of pharmaceutical industry and in therapeutic areas with consolidated customers, which continuously put pressure on pricing.

Africa has more than 25 million HIV patients and “we are currently only able to reach a very small population with affordable treatment.”

Kumar says, this gives him the hope and impetus to work towards increasing access of the company’s products to patients.

To achieve this, he said, they will adopt a market acceleration growth strategy for their existing portfolio of products which will be complemented by a product expansion strategy to fuel the future growth.

Kumar comes at a time when Covid-19 has caused a number of disruptions for many economies where the company markets its products.

Its latest financial statements indicates that the company recovered from a net loss of Shs21.3billion in September 2020 to record profit before tax of Shs5.5 billion at the end of September 2021.

It produces anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs meant for HIV/Aids patients, tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis medicines.

“I believe, I am an inquisitive thinker,” he said, “I set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them.”

Kumar is driven by the purpose of caring for life and Cipla’s quest to provide affordable medicines in Africa.

“I have always worked with a strong professional will and personal humility. Therefore, given the team that I have worked with in the past months, I believe we shall achieve more and beyond our targets. Of course, the ground has already been set, so mine is to build and consolidate further,” he explains.

To most shareholders who have not been happy with company performance, since 2018 when it went public, Kumar plans to create a two-way interaction with them since they are the single most important aspect of the business.

In addition, he said, the company will continue with the practice of shareholder newsletters every quarter along with half year and off-season engagement sessions.

He projects very good performance given that the company is involved in providing solutions to the biggest problems in Africa and that they are physically present across the continent with a state of art facility manned by a dedicated team of more than 350 staff.

“We lead the local pharmaceutical industry in eastern and sub-Saharan Africa…I think the above are strong reasons for anyone to invest in the company,” he said.

In terms of driving up share value at the stock market, Kumar said, this will have to partly depend on market sentiments.

The company’s counter at the Uganda Securities Exchange has not attracted a lot of activity and its share price currently is quoted at Shs95 per share compared to its Shs256 per share at Initial Public Offer back in 2018.

But Kumar said, his focus will be on improving the performance of the company, which will eventually create higher value for shareholders and give them healthy returns.

“Once we have achieved this, I am sure the share price will automatically reflect positively,” he said.

Going forward, Kumar said, Cipla, in the coming years will be a very agile company, responding to changes with great speed.

“We will bring solutions for other disease burdens that are growing significantly in the African continent,” he said.

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