KKR, CVC, other PE firms line up to bid for Asian hospital business — sources

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SINGAPORE (March 19): Columbia Pacific Management's Asian hospital business has drawn interest from global private equity players, including KKR, CVC and Carlyle, in a sale the US investment company has pegged at about US$2 billion, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Columbia Asia is offering a portfolio of 30 mid-sized medical facilities, mainly in India and Malaysia, where healthcare spending is growing rapidly.

A successful deal would make it the biggest transaction in Southeast Asia's hospital sector in nine years and one of the largest in Asia over the last decade, according to data from Refinitiv.

One of the sources said the sale drew in first round non-binding bids from a number of financial investors, including sovereign wealth funds.

Interest also came from Ramsay Sime Darby, a venture of Malaysia's Sime Darby Bhd and Australian-listed Ramsay Health Care Ltd, and Asia's largest premium hospital group IHH Healthcare Ltd, the sources said.

KKR, Carlyle, CVC, IHH and Ramsay Healthcare declined comment. There was no immediate response to an email query sent to Columbia Pacific.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Monday was the deadline for first round bids, the sources said.

"This type of asset doesn't come to the market too often, and the opportunity to invest in this is not lost on most PE players," said one source.

Columbia Asia, part of Seattle-based Columbia Pacific Management, opened its first hospital more than two decades ago. It has 12 hospitals each in India and Malaysia, three in Indonesia, and two hospitals and one clinic in Vietnam.

Columbia Pacific has a separate healthcare venture in China.

Columbia Asia says on its website that it focuses on setting up mid-size hospitals in residential areas for accessibility and efficiency and to help keep costs down for consumers.