Aster DM Healthcare to focus on India expansion over next three years: Azad Moopen

Hospital and pharmacy chain Aster DM Healthcare Ltd. said it would look to acquire private operators to boost expansion in India after selling its GCC business for $1 billion.

Aster plans to add an additional 1,500 beds to the current capacity of 4,800 in the world’s most populous country in the next three years and “look at companies that are not listed but doing well,” said Azad Moopen, president and director. General of Aster. he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Thursday.

“We will have firepower,” he said.

Last month, Aster – founded in 1987 from a single clinic in Dubai – announced that it had agreed to sell 65 percent of its Gulf operations to a group led by Fajr Capital and would use the funds to pay dividends. and expansion.

Aster operates 34 hospitals as well as hundreds of clinics and pharmacies across India and the Gulf. The firm had been working with advisers for years on a plan to spin off its two regional businesses.

Focus on India

The company is now focused on expanding rapidly in India, targeting a market where more than a third of the country’s 1.4 billion people can afford private healthcare, Moopen said.

India’s hospitality industry is witnessing a rush of investor interest and the size of the sector is estimated to have more than doubled to $132 billion since 2017, according to a government investment agency.

More than half of Aster’s hospitals are in India, which only accounts for just over a quarter of its revenue. Still, Aster’s compound annualized growth of 20 to 25 percent in the country over the past five years has been “at least three times” larger than its Gulf business, Moopen said.

“The Indian market was not valuing the GCC business the way we thought it would,” Moopen said. “We had to consider something very drastic.”

Referring to the company’s India-listed shares, which have risen 20 percent since the deal was announced, Moopen said “the decision was right.”

While the Aster sale generated value as its focus shifts to India, the amount of dividend payout from earnings, as well as the possible exit of a shareholder, remain key uncertainties, Jainil Shah said last week, Mumbai-based JM Financial analyst.

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