Malaysia's IHH offers to buy India's Fortis at 160 per share

Rajan Pai

The race for Fortis is heating up as a TPG-backed Indian firm sweetened its initial offer, and Singapore-listed IHH Healthcare proposed a bid of as much as US$1.3 billion (S$1.7 billion), according to people with knowledge of the matter.

IHH's offer surpasses the revised bid of Rs 155 per share by Manipal Hospital Enterprises Pvt.

But even without it, an under-resourced Indian public health system has helped Fortis - with around 30 hospitals across India - and rival private-healthcare companies such as Manipal and Apollo Hospital Enterprise Ltd grow rapidly in recent years, tapping into demand for better healthcare.

"Our request for such due diligence primarily stems from the inability of the statutory auditors of the Company to opine on its financial position as on December 31 2017 and regulatory investigations that are now underway", it said.

Meanwhile a statement from the Fortis Healthcare said that the proposal is under evaluation by the company.

Meanwhile, on Thursday it had received an unsolicited binding offer jointly from Sunil Munjal of Hero and Burmans of Dabur to invest Rs 1,250 crore directly into the company through a preferential allotment.

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Utilisation of proceeds from this funding shall only be for the purposes of payment of employee dues, repayment of loans which have matured and payment of pressing creditors and to monitor these, a board seat shall be given to investors, it added.

Manipal, seeking to expand its presence beyond southern India, first offered to buy Fortis last month, proposing a deal that would give control of the combined company to Manipal Chief Executive Ranjan Pai and US buyout firm TPG Capital.

The competing proposals are the latest twist in the Fortis saga, with India's fraud watchdog and stock regulator probing the firm after Bloomberg News reported its founders took out at least 5 billion rupees without board approval.

Manipal's controlling shareholder Ranjan Pai on Wednesday said the reason he was not buying Fortis outright was because of the potential liabilities posed by the investigations.

Both IHH and Fortis were not immediately available for comment.

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