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Two suitors for India's Fortis raise bids by Tuesday deadline


CASH-STRAPPED Indian hospital operator Fortis Healthcare Ltd said on Tuesday that two of its five suitors had boosted their bids to invest in the company as of a deadline for binding offers on Tuesday.

Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Bhd lifted its offer to 175 rupees a share, a 9.4 per cent premium to an earlier proposal. IHH earlier proposed injecting 6.5 billion rupees (S$130 million) immediately into Fortis, and then 33.5 billion after due diligence.

Indian businessmen Sunil Munjal and Anand Burman increased their combined offer to invest in the company to 18 billion rupees from 15 billion rupees, via a subscription to shares and warrants. They have offered 167 rupees per share and 176 rupees per warrant.

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Five companies and investment groups are vying to either control or partner with Fortis, which has 30-odd hospitals in India, as they bet on a rapid growth for the private healthcare market in Asia's third-largest economy.

Tuesday noon (0630 GMT) was the deadline for binding offers, which will be evaluated by an expert advisory panel. The Fortis board is due to meet on May 10 to consider the panel's recommendations.

Manipal, another operator of Indian hospitals along with buyout firm TPG, last week raised its binding offer to buy Fortis's hospitals business at a valuation of 63.22 billion rupees, 4.3 per cent higher than its previous bid. The group, the first suitor for Fortis, has until May 6 to further revise its offer.

Radiant Life Care Pvt Ltd, backed by private equity firm KKR & Co, has also made a binding offer to acquire Fortis's Mulund Hospital located in Indian financial hub Mumbai for an enterprise value of 12 billion rupees. It has also made a separate non-binding offer involving a separation of diagnostic services company SRL from the Fortis stake sale process.

China's Fosun International is the other suitor.

It made a non-binding offer last month to invest up to US$350 million, subject to due diligence for a stake that would be less than 25 per cent.

On Monday, Fortis shares closed down about 1 per cent at 152.40 rupees. Indian markets were closed for a holiday on Tuesday. REUTERS