March 6, 2019 / 8:02 AM / in 2 months

Ascom investor says group should consider sale: Finanz und Wirtschaft

ZURICH (Reuters) - Ascom’s biggest shareholder, Veraison, is demanding the Swiss communications equipment company consider all options including a sale on grounds it is not fulfilling its potential in the health care sector, newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft reported.

Veraison has “no confidence in the current operative leadership”, said Veraison co-founder Gregor Greber, the newspaper reported.

Veraison holds nearly 8 percent of shares in Ascom, whose stock price has fallen nearly 50 percent since January 2018 as it has missed its own sales and profitability goals.

Ascom reports full-year 2018 results on Thursday. A spokesman said that the company’s leadership would address Greber’s criticism at a news conference then in Zurich.

Its shares were little changed in pre-market activity.

Ascom in January released preliminary 2018 figures, saying it expects revenues to have grown 1.7 percent at constant currency exchange rates to 318.5 million Swiss francs ($317 million) while its operating margin decreased to 12 percent from 14.1 percent in 2017 after a sluggish start to the year.

Both are below the targets Ascom Chief Executive Holger Cordes set last March, when he called for 3-6 percent revenue growth and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation up to around 15 percent of sales.

The Swiss company has said the healthcare sector, where it sells communications equipment for hospitals and medical professionals, is growing at above-average rates, while it has seen slowing momentum amid delays in its enterprise sector where products include software and gear for communication systems for corporations, utilities, governments and other customers.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields

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