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Wed 25 Nov 2015 02:03 PM

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UAE businessman Al Ghurair set to sell healthcare stake in 2018

Essa al-Ghurair plans to sell a 30% stake in his healthcare business to fund its expansion into Africa

UAE businessman Al Ghurair set to sell healthcare stake in 2018
Doctor, Healthcare

UAE businessman Essa al-Ghurair plans to sell a 30 percent stake in his healthcare business in three years' time to fund its expansion into Africa, he told Reuters.

The business currently comprises one hospital and 10 clinics, all in the UAE, and Ghurair is the latest Gulf businessman to look to Africa's fast-growing economies for expansion. He did not say which countries he was looking at.

The next two years will be spent preparing the company, Prime Hospitals and Clinics, for the stake sale, Ghurair, a member of one of the leading merchant families in the UAE, told Reuters this week.

A sale is "one way of growing the business, so at least you can bring someone from outside to give you a bit of direction, for funding requirements to grow the business," he said.

"I have ambitions to go to Africa for healthcare, but I have to create a model that will work. It takes time to build this model, and I'm working on this," he added, without elaborating.

The Gulf Arab region's fast-growing healthcare sector is drawing investor attention as lifestyle-related diseases increase among its wealthy populations.

Abu Dhabi-based Al Noor Hospitals is currently courting takeover bids from UAE-based VPS Healthcare and South Africa's Mediclinic International.

NMC Health, which pulled a bid for Al Noor this month, announced on Tuesday it would spend $189 million on a 51 percent stake in UAE-based fertility clinic operator Fakih IVF Group, while Saudi Arabia's Al Borg Medical Laboratories is considering selling a 49 per cent stake of its company.

Ghurair, whose Essa Al Ghurair Investments covers the healthcare and food sectors, said the activity in the sector is a signal of its development], with healthcare providers becoming more sophisticated and expanding their offerings.

"If there's more healthcare providers, they won't just cater themselves, but the region and Africa," Ghurair said.

"Some hospitals will create a niche market for them to invest in equipment and cater to that sector of the disease. Now the industry is more general, but later it will be more specific in nature."

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