Ebos profit jumps

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 11:35 19/02/2014

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Medical goods supplier Ebos Group posted a net profit of $49.4 million in the six months ending December 31, compared to $14.96m a year earlier.

The group delivered a result in line with what it said it would in spite of a much higher-than-expected New Zealand dollar, chief executive Mark Waller said.

The result also beat the $48.7 million forecast in last June's prospectus, issued  to support its acquisition of Symbion in Australia.

"The strength of our result can be put down to excellent performances across all our business units, which together generated turnover in excess of $3 billion," he said.

"We are delighted with the first-half results."

Last year Ebos announced a $1.1 billion deal to buy Symbion, an Australian pharmaceutical wholesaler and distributor.

It said the purchase would not dilute its commitment to keeping its headquarters in Christchurch.

The deal to buy Symbion from Hong Kong-based Zuellig Group brought in Zuellig as a 40 per cent shareholder.

Ebos said a number of acquisition opportunities were reviewed during its first half but "none met our strict criteria for shareholder returns".

Ebos also announced a raft of changes at board and management level.

Long-serving managing director and chief executive Waller will step aside from those roles to become a director later this year and will eventually become chairman.

Australian-based Patrick Davies, chief executive of Ebos-owned Symbion, will become chief executive at Ebos, which until now has had its headquarters in Christchurch but operations around New Zealand and in Australia.

Ebos said its chairman of 10 years Rick Christie would retire at the company's annual meeting in October 2015, and Waller would take over the role at the same time.

Waller would retire from his managing director role at the conclusion of the group's full-year result presentations in late August 2014, and Davies would become Ebos chief executive.

Waller would then undertake "a key project role" for 12 months to help drive the next phase of Ebos growth.

He would continue as a director of Ebos during this period until taking over the chairmanship, the company said.

Ebos chief financial officer Dennis Doherty would retire at the end of August, and John Cullity would become chief financial officer of the group.

"Patrick Davies and John Cullity are currently the Symbion chief executive and chief financial officer and together have driven the success of Symbion," the company said.

"Patrick and John are high calibre executives with a real depth of health industry experience."

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Leonard Hansen, the group's financial controller would take up a New Zealand senior finance executive role on Doherty's retirement.

Ebos declared an interim dividend of 20.5 cents per share, compared with the 2013 interim dividend of 17.5c. The record date for the dividend is March 14, payable on 4 April 2014.

- Fairfax Media

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