You are here

Battle for Fortis Health heats up as Indian tycoons offer to invest 12.5b rupees

[MUMBAI] Fortis Healthcare Ltd said it has received a joint investment proposal from two Indian business families, intensifying a race to gain control of the country's second-largest private hospital chain.

Hero Enterprise Investment Office and the Burman Family Office have made a binding offer to invest a total of 12.5 billion rupees (S$251.4 million) through a preferential share allotment, according to a Fortis exchange filing on Thursday. The proposal, which is subject to certain conditions, includes an immediate investment of 5 billion rupees and 7.5 billion rupees after diligence is completed within three weeks.

The race for Fortis is heating up as a TPG-backed Indian firm sweetened its initial offer, and IHH Healthcare Bhd proposed a bid of as much as US$1.3 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The competing proposals are the latest twist in the Fortis saga, with India's fraud watchdog and stock regulator probing the company after Bloomberg News reported that its founders took at least 5 billion rupees out of the company without board approval.

Fortis shares were little changed at 154 rupees as of 11:01am in Mumbai and have climbed more than 20 per cent so far this month.

sentifi.com

Market voices on:

"As the assets of Fortis are good, the company may get more competitive offers in the future," said Sanjiv Bhasin, executive vice president for markets at brokerage India Infoline Ltd. "It has potential to move up to 175 rupees a share."

The Hero and Burman group entities are shareholders of Fortis, with about a 3 per cent stake in the hospital operator, according to the offer letter from the investors attached to the filing. The two entities said they are concerned about Fortis's future and the company requires funding for its immediate needs as well as to develop its long-term value.

"Our offer is simple and does not envisage any changes to the current structure, operations and assets of the company," Sunil Kant Munjal of Hero Enterprise, and Mohit Burman of the Burman Family, wrote in the letter. Its proposal "can be implemented in a fairly short period of time and will allow the company to focus on stabilizing operations and on growth," they said.

Mr Munjal is the chairman of Hero Enterprise and is president of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana, in the northern Punjab state, which has more than 1,500 beds, according to the letter. The Burman family founded Dabur India Ltd, which sells consumer products from hair oil to packaged juices.

The two Indian groups had approached Fortis in March to discuss the possibility of a deal, though the talks were unsuccessful as the company's management had said they didn't have the time to offer an opportunity for due diligence, according to the letter.

They are entering the fray as founders Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh were unable to repay loans and lost Fortis shares put up as collateral. Both the brothers resigned from their posts at the company in February. Their stake in Fortis declined to less than 1 per cent from 34.4 per cent previously.

BLOOMBERG