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Fortis Healthcare gets Hero-Burman nod to reopen bidding

[MUMBAI] Fortis Healthcare Ltd on Monday said the consortium of Hero Enterprise Investment Office and Burman Family Office, which won a five-way bidding war for the Indian firm, has permitted reopening the bidding process, amid shareholder concerns over the board's choice of the underdog.

Though permitted to re-open the bidding, Fortis had not yet made a decision on the matter, a spokesman told Reuters.

The board of the cash-strapped company approved the consortium's offer to invest 18 billion rupees (US$357.6 million) earlier this month.

However, investors have been wary of the board's selection, given the consortium's offer was much lower than those of Manipal Hospitals Enterprises or Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Bhd .

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In a letter to the company's board on Monday, the Hero-Burman group acknowledged stakeholders' preference for re-opening the bidding process.

"We believe that this situation may have arisen largely on account of the lack of information available to stakeholders," Hero-Burman said.

Disapproval from shareholders became evident after they voted out a director last week. Three other directors had resigned ahead of the vote.

Fortis has been in the middle of a five-way bidding war with local and international suitors wanting to invest in the firm or buy it. Manipal sweetened its offer for a fifth time after the Hero-Burman offer was selected, and IHH extended the acceptance period for its offer.