Billionaire Singh brothers to buy 65 pct of Vietnam hospital chain

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Fortis Healthcare International Pte, owned by India's billionaire brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, agreed to pay US$64 million for a majority stake in Hoan My Medical Corp., a Vietnamese hospital operator backed by Deutsche Bank AG.

The brothers, who control more than 81 percent of Fortis Healthcare India Ltd., the country's second biggest hospital operator, will take a 65 percent stake in Hoan My, according to an e-mailed statement Wednesday. The deal is the sixth that the Singapore-based company has made in eight months, it said.

It will bolster Fortis's expansion in Asia, where the Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts per capita healthcare spending will grow 55 percent from 2010 to 2015. Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoan My had 700 beds in five Vietnamese hospitals and sales of $23.8 million in the last fiscal year, according to Fortis International, which is looking for more acquisitions.

"My ammunition box is always ready and always fully loaded, but only for the right opportunity and the right price," Chairman Malvinder Singh said in a telephone interview. "The opportunities are very large."

Fortis Healthcare India rose as much as 3 percent, the biggest intraday jump since July 27, and traded up 1 percent at 156.80 rupees as of 11:13 a.m. in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank's DWS Vietnam Fund and VinaCapital Investment Management Ltd. invested $10 million each in October 2009 for a combined 40 percent stake in Hoan My.

Fortis International is the vehicle for the Singh brothers' expansion in health care outside of India.

"Over the next few years, I see the international component growing very rapidly," Singh said. "We are well positioned to capitalize on the growth in the healthcare market in the region."

Singh is in the "process of understanding and learning more" about the healthcare market in China, he said.

In October, Fortis International acquired the medical services unit of Quality HealthCare Asia Ltd., Hong Kong's largest operator of outpatient clinics, for HK$1.5 billion ($192 million) and followed that in February with a majority stake in Dental Corporation Holdings, which runs dentists' offices in Australia. Fortis International also owns hospitals in Sri Lanka and Singapore.

Hoan My Medical Corp. was established in 1997. Its new 200-bed tertiary care hospital is scheduled to open in Ho Chi Minh City by November 2011, according to Fortis. The group has 450 physicians.

The government on August 2 allowed the group to open a medical university, the first private school of its kind in Vietnam. The university is expected to enroll its first 100 students in 2012.

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