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JOHANNESBURG, May 24 (Reuters) - South Africa's biggest private hospital group, Mediclinic International, reported a 19 percent drop in underlying full-year earnings on Wednesday as regulations in the Middle East weighed on profits.
Mediclinic, which has stakes in Britain's Spire Healthcare and Switzerland's Hirslanden, extended its reach into the United Arab Emirates when it bought Al Noor last year.
Underlying earnings per share came in at 29.8 pence per share compared with 36.7 pence a year earlier, largely impacted by the shares issued to acquire Al Noor and adverse operating performance in Abu Dhabi, the company said.
A co-payment system on private healthcare in Abu Dhabi had weighed on the firm's operations in the United Arab Emirates, but the government has since scrapped it.
"This year, regulatory matters weighed on the Group more so than in the past and I'm pleased that in recent weeks we've made progress with some key issues in Switzerland and Abu Dhabi," Chief Executive Danie Meintjes said in a statement.
Mediclinic said revenue rose 30 percent to 2.75 billion pounds ($3.57 billion) and operating profit was up 26 percent.
$1 = 0.7711 pounds Reporting by TJ Strydom; editing by Jason Neely