Pretoria – The Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite (Knight of the French National Order of Merit) was bestowed upon Stephen Saad, Aspen’s Group Chief Executive, at the University of Pretoria earlier today.
The national order, originally announced on 11 March 2019, was presented by President Emmanuel Macron at a small event with limited guests in attendance, given heightened Covid-19 gathering protocols.
The National Order of Merit, as awarded by the French President, recognises services and contributions rendered to France, and was created in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. Foreigners who have distinguished themselves by their merits in relation to France may be awarded a distinction in the National Order of Merit on the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and within the limits of specific quotas fixed by decree for a period of three years.
President Macron said, “It gives me great honour to bestow the insigna of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite upon Stephen Saad, in recognition of his role in developing the economic relations between France and South Africa, as well as his life-long engagement with initiatives that have benefited underprivileged communities across the world.”
Responding to President Macron, Stephen Saad said, “I am deeply humbled and honoured to be recognised with this presentation and I wish to thank President Macron, the French and South African governments for enabling Aspen to contribute towards economic development between our countries. The national order conferred on me is, however, humbly accepted on behalf of Aspen’s employees who have contributed in various roles towards this recognition, most notably our employees in France who take responsibility for the production and commercialisation of our sterile medicines at our manufacturing site in Notre Dame de Bondeville, Normandy. These employees have, despite the many challenges experienced over the last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, remained dedicated to providing healthcare solutions to patients through their expertise, knowledge and passion.”
“Our sterile products produced at the Notre Dame de Bondeville site have, along with a number of other Aspen medicines, played a critical role in treating patients suffering from Covid-19 across Europe and elsewhere in the world. The French government has supported Aspen’s investment and manufacturing initiatives in France since our acquisition of this site in 2013 and we express our sincere thanks to France and its people.”