SINGAPORE: Mitsui & Co is exploring a deal to take Malaysian hospital group IHH Healthcare Bhd private, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Some private equity firms have approached the Japanese trading house to team up on the potential transaction to buy out IHH’s other shareholders, said one of the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private.
Mitsui has reached out to Khazanah Nasional Bhd, IHH’s second-largest shareholder, to pick up its stake, another person said.
IHH, which is listed on the stock exchanges of Malaysia and Singapore, has a market value of RM49bil (US$12bil).
Shares in Kuala Lumpur closed up 7.7% following the Bloomberg News report, their biggest intraday move since March 2020.
Discussions are still in the early stages and there is no certainty that Mitsui would proceed with an offer, said the people.
Representatives for IHH and Mitsui declined to comment.
A representative for Khazanah didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mitsui raised its stake in IHH in 2018 to 32.9%, after buying additional shares in the hospital operator from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah.
The Japanese firm is now the single biggest shareholder in the company, followed by the Kuala Lumpur-based state investment firm with 26%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Based on the company’s website, Mitsui & Co is one of the largest sogoshosha (general trading companies) in Japan and is part of the Mitsui Group, and its business area covers energy, machinery, chemicals, food, textile, logistics, finance and more.
IHH, which employs over 65,000 people across 80 hospitals in 10 countries, offers healthcare services ranging from primary care to acute medical treatment, according to its website.
It manages a portfolio of healthcare brands such as Acibadem, Fortis and Gleneagles in markets including Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and India.
The company is considering selling its medical education arm, International Medical University (IMU), in a deal that could fetch about US$300mil, Bloomberg News has reported.
Founded in 1992 as International Medical College, IMU offers more than 20 health professional programmes ranging from pre-university to postgraduate across fields from medicine to dentistry. Its main campus is situated in Kuala Lumpur.
IHH Healthcare recently announced that it had completed the sale of its entire 50% equity stake in its Apollo Gleneagles Hospital Ltd, Kolkata (AGHL) joint venture to Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd.
This in line with the group’s continued execution of its “Refreshed Strategy”, of which one pillar is to review its portfolio and capital deployment to prioritise returns, it added.
IHH Healthcare was reported recently to have entered into a partnership with Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech to provide Covaxin at its Gleneagles Global Hospitals in three locations in India.
According to news portal The Hindu Business Line, the global healthcare provider has three healthcare institutions in India, namely, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Kengeri, Bengaluru; Gleneagles Global Health City in Chennai; and Gleneagles Global Hospitals in Hyderabad. ─ Bloomberg