May 28, 2018 / 7:01 AM / 25 days ago

Fortis Healthcare undecided on reopening bidding process

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India’s Fortis Healthcare Ltd said on Monday it had not decided whether to re-open bidding for itself, after an offer of funding that its board had accepted got a tepid response from investors, prolonging a fierce takeover battle.

FILE PHOTO: A Fortis hospital building is pictured in Gurgaon, India, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal/File Photo/Files

The Hero Enterprise Investment Office and Burman Family Office’s offer this month to invest 18 billion rupees ($267 million) in the company did not go down well with Fortis shareholders, who voted out a director last week. Three directors resigned ahead of the vote.

The cash-strapped hospitals operator has become an attractive investment target in recent months with five local and international suitors wanting to invest in or buy it, seeking to cash in on an expected boom in India’s private healthcare market.

Buyout offers from Fortis rival Manipal Health Enterprises and Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Bhd value Fortis much higher than the Hero-Burman investment offer.

But the Hero-Burman offer waived due diligence and would give Fortis quick access to funds needed to cut its large debt pile.

In a letter to Fortis’s board on Monday, the Hero-Burman consortium said it understood some shareholders would prefer that the bidding process be re-opened, and said Fortis had its consent to do so.

“It appears there may be indecision on the part of the company regarding the bid process,” the consortium said, adding: “We believe that this situation may have arisen largely on account of the lack of information available to stakeholders.”

After the board had agreed to the Hero-Burman offer, Manipal sweetened its offer to 180 rupees a share, valuing the company at 94.03 billion rupees - higher than the Hero-Burman offer valuing Fortis at 90 billion rupees.

Malaysia’s IHH, which has proposed injecting 40 billion rupees in Fortis at up to 175 rupees per share, last week extended its offer period until the end of June.

Shares in Fortis ended 1.4 percent higher on Monday.($1 = 67.4500 Indian rupees)

Additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Adrian Croft

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