April 20, 2018 / 2:46 AM / 7 months ago

Fortis in five-way battle for control as KKR-backed firm makes offer

(Reuters) - The battle for control of India’s Fortis Healthcare Ltd intensified after KKR-backed Radiant Life Care Private Ltd entered the fray with an offer to buy more than a quarter of the cash-strapped company’s hospital business.

A Fortis hospital building is pictured in New Delhi, India, March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

In its non-binding offer, Radiant, the fifth suitor for Fortis, proposed on Thursday to make an investment and re-structure the company, Fortis said in a filing that had Radiant’s offer letter attached to it.

“I think now, we will have revised offers coming,” said Gaurang Shah, head investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

Fortis also said on Thursday that it set up an advisory committee to evaluate binding bids. The committee is expected to give its recommendation to the board on April 26.

The company has become the target of a takeover battle that includes offers from China’s Fosun International and Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare. Both offers, however, are non-binding.

The other two offers - from local rival Manipal Health Enterprises and a consortium of two prominent Indian business families, Hero Enterprise and the Burman Family Office - are both binding.

All the offers value Fortis within a tight range of $1.2-$1.4 billion.

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Radiant has proposed to spin off the hospital business from the larger company to form a new company, which will exclude Fortis’ stake in Indian diagnostics chain SRL Ltd.

The all-cash offer to shareholders of the proposed new company is 126 rupees per share, Radiant said. This offer values the whole of Fortis at 165 rupees per share, or 85.58 billion rupees ($1.30 billion), including the SRL stake.

The offer is contingent on, among others, Radiant being able to buy 26 percent or more shares of the proposed new company.

Fortis shares were up 1 percent on Friday afternoon at 150 rupees, in a broader market that was down 0.3 percent.

The keen interest in Fortis, which runs about 30 hospitals in India, comes as companies and investors look to tap soaring demand for private healthcare in the South Asian nation against the backdrop of a stretched public healthcare system.

Private hospitals could also be boosted from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to implement a healthcare programme aimed at providing insurance cover to about half of India’s population.

KKR & Co owns a 49 percent stake in Radiant with its $200 million investment in 2017, Radiant said.

($1 = 65.8600 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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