[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Bhd, the world's second-biggest healthcare firm by market value, is buying a 73.4 per cent stake in India-based Ravindranath GE Medical Associates Private Ltd for 819 million ringgit (US$195 million).
The deal comes as private hospital chains benefit from growing numbers of more affluent Indians willing to pay for better-equipped clinics, given the poor state of public hospitals. "Together with our existing hospitals, the acquisition ... catapults us towards becoming one of the leading hospital groups in India," Tan See Leng, IHH managing director and chief executive, said on Friday.
IHH will inject 169 million ringgit into the acquired business, known as Global Hospitals, to fund its capital expenditure requirements and optimise its cost of borrowing.
Global Hospitals operates five hospitals with a total of 1,100 beds in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. The number of beds is expected to rise to approximately 1,900 within five years, IHH said.
Analysts expect private healthcare providers to see growing investor interest, given India's public spending on health is among the lowest in the world. Private equity investments into the sector stood at US$552 million last year, slightly lower than the US$786.2 million in 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Overseas firms including Dubai-based Aster DM Healthcare and ABV Group are also investing in luxury healthcare in India, attracted by strong demand for quality medical care which, due to lower costs and a weaker rupee, they can offer to patients at below international prices.
IHH also owns 10.85 per cent of India's leading hospital chain Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd.
CIMB Securities (India) Private Ltd and ICICI Securities Ltd were financial advisors on the deal, IHH said.
Shares of IHH ended up 1 per cent at 5.85 ringgit versus a 0.7 per cent rise in the benchmark index.