Feet Supplier to South Africa ‘Blade Runner’ Sprinter, Ossur, Not For Sale
Ossur Hf (OSSR)’s largest shareholder has no interest in selling the Icelandic prosthetics maker whose artificial feet are used by would-be Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius.
Ossur, based in Reykjavik, makes braces and replacement knees and feet. Pistorius, the South African sprinter known as the “blade runner” who is seeking to become the first athlete with prosthetics to compete in the Olympics, uses the company’s Cheetah carbon-fiber foot.
Makers of orthopedic devices may become takeover targets after Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) agreed this week to acquire Synthes Inc. (SYST), a manufacturer of products to treat trauma victims, for $21.3 billion. William Demant Invest A/S, the investment company for the Smoerum, Denmark-based Oticon Foundation, plans to maintain its stake in Ossur at around 40 percent, said Niels Jacobsen, chairman of the investment company.
“It is a long-term holding,” Jacobsen said today by phone. “Our plan is to support the company’s plans to develop their strategy and their growth.”
Ossur was unchanged at 8.70 kroner at the 5 p.m. close of trading in Copenhagen, giving the company a market value of 3.95 billion kroner ($790 million). The stock has risen 2.4 percent in the past year, compared with a 12 percent return for the Bloomberg World Health-Care Products Index.
The foundation began acquiring Ossur shares in 2004 after reviewing investment opportunities in health care, said Jacobsen, who also is chief executive officer of hearing aid maker William Demant A/S. Particularly when its Ossur holdings were smaller, private-equity investors and other companies asked if the foundation would sell, he said. The foundation declined.
“We’ve been very happy with our investment, which is why we’ve been expanding our holding over the last eight years,” Jacobsen said.
Ossur’s net income climbed 54 percent last year to $34.9 million and sales increased 8.4 percent to $358.5 million.
Pistorius, who has broken more than 25 Paralympic records, is aiming to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
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