Integrated Report


 
Stakeholder engagement
 
 

At Aspen, stakeholder engagement is promoted by the Group’s Board of Directors who review the policy on an annual basis and considers stakeholder engagement undertaken and to be undertaken quarterly. Stakeholder engagement is an inherent part of routine management processes which are applied on a daily basis in order to manage a myriad of important stakeholder relations.


Aspen’s Stakeholder Engagement Policy

Overview

With its history extending back to approximately 160 years since the inception of Lennon Ltd in 1850, Aspen has an entrenched legacy in South Africa and parts of southern Africa. In the 13 years since listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (now the JSE Ltd) in 1998, Aspen has evolved from a trusted, domestic pharmaceutical company in South Africa to a well-reputed manufacturer and supplier of high quality, affordable pharmaceutical products to more than 100 countries around the globe. The strength of the Group lies in its ability to foster and maintain strong relationships with its stakeholders through transparency and effective communication. The Board of Directors is committed to sustaining Aspen’s established credibility and rapport among its stakeholders.

Stakeholder identification

Stakeholders are considered to be those persons, groups or organisations which are directly impacted by the activities of the Group as well as those persons, groups or organisations which can reasonably be foreseen to be impacted by the Group’s activities. A structured system of engagement exists to ensure the timeous communication of accurate and relevant information to each stakeholder group in a consistent manner. Stakeholder engagement in the South African business has been well established over the years. Steps towards identifying and actively engaging Aspen’s relevant stakeholders in the International businesses are being taken as Aspen embeds its presence in these regions.

Responsibility for stakeholder engagement

The Board of Directors of Aspen is responsible for the implementation of a stakeholder-inclusive governance approach. The Stakeholder Engagement Policy for the Group is approved by the Board. The Board delegates this responsibility to the Group’s executive management body. executive management is hence entrusted with the responsibility for implementation of the Stakeholder Engagement Policy and a robust and consistent system of communication with identified stakeholder groups. Chief executive officers at the Group’s subsidiary companies (or their equivalent) are mandated to liaise with the People and Operations stakeholder groups to ensure that the specific expectations of a diverse stakeholder base are met. The Group corporate communications team is then responsible for interaction with stakeholders in the Corporate Group. To ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and protocols governing corporate communication, external consultants are appointed as required. In accordance with the JSE’s Listings Requirements, all corporate communications which appear on the Stock Exchange News Service are approved by the Group’s Corporate Sponsor, for the time being, prior to posting the announcement.

Stakeholder participation

Stakeholders are encouraged to interact with the Group to gain a better understanding of Aspen and also to voice their opinion.

The open-door policy at Aspen facilitates ongoing interaction and promotes internal stakeholder participation. Meetings, forums, awareness sessions and electronic communication are just some of the interaction methods available to internal stakeholders.

External stakeholders can liaise with the Group using the following channels:
  • Aspen’s online enquiry form located on www.aspenpharma.com;
  • using direct contact details of the corporate and regional offices for specific information;
  • the Aspen customer care line;
  • the Aspen Medical Information hotline;
  • the independently monitored Tip-Offs® anonymous hotline;
  • direct access to the Group Investor Relations Manager, Group Company Secretary or the Group Communications Consultant; and
  • access to publically available corporate information through the Group Company Secretary.

Dispute resolution

The Group’s approach to conflict/dispute resolution is through constructive dialogue with the relevant parties. Where this preferred method does not result in adequate resolution of a matter, external legal advisers, arbitrators and/or mediators are engaged to expedite resolution.

Review of the Stakeholder Engagement Policy

This Stakeholder Engagement Policy must be reviewed by the Board on or before 1 October of each year. In addition, it may be updated more frequently should circumstances necessitate.

 

The Group’s key stakeholders can be classified into the following groups:

 

ASPEN’S STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT APPROACH WITH STAKEHOLDER GROUPS  
  Stakeholder group     Means of engagement  
  People      
  Employees    
Routine and specifically scheduled functional and cross-functional meetings as required.
     
Notice boards to display relevant announcements are accessible to staff across the departments.  
     
Company intranet is available for online access to key notices and pertinent information.  
     
Sales conferences are held and attended by the sales teams, executives and representatives from relevant support functions.  
     
An annual strategic conference is held for executives to discuss Group strategy.  
     
Letters/emails are sent to employees regarding policies, procedures and/or employment-related information.  
     
Workshops and training sessions are held to create an awareness of and provide training on new processes, new technology and for continuous learning.  
     
Employment equity committees exist in South Africa to promote the development and advancement of previously disadvantaged individuals.  
     
Annual results presentations and selected strategic announcements are delivered to Group executives and management who then disseminate the information to operational staff.  
     
An open-door policy/culture exists for ongoing communication and interaction among colleagues.   
     
The Tip-Offs® anonymous hotline is managed independently by Deloitte for the reporting of fraud, theft and unethical behaviour in South Africa and other areas.  
  Trade unions    
Union representatives are elected to liaise with management on matters affecting union members.  
     
Human Resources managers are responsible for managing the relationship with the employee unions and relevant industrial labour organisations and to represent the Company at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in South Africa.  
  Bargaining councils    
Meetings are held with the bargaining councils as required.  
     
The Human Resources Manager – Operations represents Aspen at the Bargaining Council meetings in South Africa.  
  Academia and educational institutions    
Interaction is managed with institutions and academia as required by a dedicated executive.  
 
Aspen is represented at seminars, conferences, student days hosted by institutions and also participates in career development programmes.  
  Operations      
  Pharmaceutical regulatory authorities    
Audits and site inspections are conducted by authorities against notification.  
 
Correspondence, as required, is entered into with regulatory authorities for purposes of managing regulatory matters regarding the regulatory status of facilities and the registration status of intellectual property.  
 
Meetings are held with regulatory authorities when necessary.  
  Healthcare industry    
Representation on pharmaceutical industry bodies and relevant commercial and trade associations.  
  Suppliers    
A centralised Procurement Department exists in South Africa to identify new suppliers and manage supplier relationships.  
     
A vendor rating process is in place for supplier performance assessments, the results of which are communicated with suppliers and corrective action plans are negotiated.  
     
Meetings are held with vendors as necessary.  
     
Vendor audits are conducted where required.  
     
Relevant vendors are involved in assisting with the supply of materials for new product launch processes where necessary.  
     
Representatives attend international supply symposiums to identify new suppliers and meet with existing suppliers.  
  Government and local authorities    
Interaction with government departments and officials as required.  
  Customers/Consumers including national and provincial Department of Health, healthcare practitioners, healthcare providers, healthcare funders and patients    
Direct calling by qualified sales representatives for the various customer groups.  
 
Representatives participation at relevant conferences to interact with customers.  
 
Product/brand advertising is undertaken to create brand awareness and market products as permissible by marketing codes.  
 
Implementation of product or brand awareness campaigns and product awareness sessions as relevant.  
 
Correspondence, as required, is sent to customers.  
 
Aspen newsletters are sent to customers containing product information, general, relevant information and information about events.  
 
Dedicated sales teams interact with specific customer groups.  
 
Consumer Call Line and a dedicated Medical Information Hotline.  
 
Site visits to manufacturing facilities as arranged.  
 
Participation in State tenders.  
  Business partners    
Ongoing communication and interaction.  
     
Meetings as required.  
     
Site visits to manufacturing facilities as arranged.  
     
Personal interaction with third parties by relevant senior executives.  
     
Information sharing projects are undertaken for mutual benefit.  
     
Dedicated technical transfer project teams are formed to manage manufacturing transfer plans and distribution transfer teams to manage supply arrangements.  
  Corporate      
  Investors, healthcare analysts and media    
A dedicated Investor Relations Manager is responsible for the information needs of existing and potential investors and healthcare analysts.  
     
Corporate presentations are delivered, by the Group Chief Executive and Deputy Group Chief Executive, to investors, analysts and media for the communication of financial results and for information regarding significant corporate activity.  
     
A conference call follows corporate announcements to accommodate international investors and analysts to provide an opportunity for investor participation.  
     
One-on-one meetings and interviews are held to cater for specific information needs of investors, analysts and media groups.  
     
Within the confines of the rules of JSE Ltd, continuous interaction with investors and media between closed periods.  
     
Distribution of a comprehensive Annual Report and the interim results to all investors.  
     
Periodic scheduled site visits conducted for investors and analysts.  
     
Stock Exchange News Service announcements are made to communicate information pertaining to corporate activity and Group results.  
     
Investor-relevant information can be accessed on the Aspen Group website.  
  Shareholders    
Annual general meetings are held as per statutory requirements.  
     
The Annual Report is distributed to shareholders.  
     
Shareholders are able to access disclosable information though the Company Secretary.  
     
Stock Exchange News Service announcements communicate information pertaining to statutory corporate activities which impact shareholders and directors’ share dealings.  
     
Selected statutory information is available on the Aspen website.  
     
Selected announcements are published in both English and Afrikaans in the printed press after release on the Stock Exchange News Service.  
     
Statutory correspondence is posted to shareholders as required by the Companies Act and other applicable legislation.  
     
Institutional shareholders can access information regarding corporate activity through the Investor Relations Manager.  
  Communities    
Aspen supports local community projects through its CSI programme.  
     
A dedicated CSI Manager liaises directly with community project leaders and visits project sites.  
     
Peer educators offer HIV/AIDS training to communities in the Port Elizabeth area.  
  Consultants and service providers    
Information sharing and interaction when services are procured for expert/specialist services including technical consultants and the media for public relations and corporate communications.  
 
A dedicated Communications Consultant to co-ordinate liaisons and interaction with members of the media.  
  Funders and corporate bankers    
Regular communication with funders regarding performance against covenants.  
 
Frequent contact with providers of finance to keep abreast of conditions in the capital markets.  
 
Engagement with bankers in respect of the Group’s potential funding requirements.  

 

  The Group has thousands of stakeholder engagements annually. Set out below by way of example are some of the more material engagements undertaken by senior executives. 
  Region     Stakeholder engagement activity  
  South Africa    
The Chairman, Group Chief Executive and Strategic Trade Executive formed part of an industry group who met informally with the South African Minister of Health to discuss matters of mutual interest.  
     
The Group Chief Executive accompanied by the Head of Operations and the Group Human Resources Executive met with shop stewards at the Port Elizabeth site to discuss improving relations.  
     
The Strategic Trade Executive took a leading role in the Pharmaceutical Task Group (an umbrella organisation of South African pharmaceutical trade organisations) in submitting industry responses to the South African Department of Health in respect of international benchmarking and the capping of logistics fees.  
     
The Head of Operations hosted an investor day at the Port Elizabeth site which was attended by a number of asset managers. The Group Chief Executive, Deputy Group Chief Executive and the Investor Relations Manager were also in attendance.  
     
The Strategic Business Development and Pharmaceutical Affairs Executive met with the Mexican regulatory authorities and the MCC to discuss progression of dossier registrations.  
     
The Strategic Business Development and Pharmaceutical Affairs Executive and the Chief Executive – Aspen Global met with GSK to discuss post-acquisition contractual matters.  
     
The Group Human Resources Executive participated in a skills development consultative forum led by the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority.  
  Sub-Saharan Africa    
The Chief Executive – Shelys engaged with the Director General of the Tanzanian FDA with regard to preferences for local manufacturing companies.  
     
The Chief Executive – Shelys has been engaging with the Kenyan Revenue Authorities regarding the ongoing legal action over import tariffs.  
  Asia Pacific    
The Group Chief Executive, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Chief Executive – Aspen Global, and the Australian management team were engaged with various consultants and advisers in connection with the acquisition of the Sigma pharmaceutical business.  
     
The Group Chief Executive, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Chief Executive – Aspen Global, Group Finance Executive and the Australian management team were engaged with all of the leading Australian banks in negotiating a loan facility and working capital facility for the acquired Sigma pharmaceutical business.  
     
The Chief Financial Officer – Australia has engaged with the Australian tax office which has been conducting an audit of the Aspen Australia business.  
     
The Chief Executive – Asia Pacific was involved in extended discussions with the Australian competition authorities regarding the Sigma pharmaceutical business.  
  Latin America    
The Chief Financial Officer – Brazil has been in consultation with the Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo state authorities regarding potential tax incentives for a new manufacturing facility.  
     
The employees of the Mexican business engaged in a drive to collect toys which were donated to foster homes.  
  Rest of the World    
The Chief Executive – Aspen Global conducted discussions with the Mauritius Board of Investment to facilitate occupational permits, and to discuss other matters relating to Aspen and Aspen’s employees.  
     
The Strategic Business Development and Pharmaceutical Affairs Executive met with the Works Council in Bad Oldesloe to discuss a new management structure of this site.  
     
The Chief Executive – Aspen Dubai has consulted with the regulatory authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates regarding various matters.