Aster DM expands hospital network in Abu Dhabi

Aster DM Healthcare plans to open three hospitals in Abu Dhabi in the next two years, even as it delays an initial public offering to the end of the year.

The Dubai-based healthcare provider is looking for acquisitions in hospitals and pharmacies in India, the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East, while pushing back its IPO plans, said Alisha Moopen, Aster DM Healthcare’s chief executive for hospitals and clinics in the Arabian Gulf region.

By the end of 2018, it expects to open a 50-bed Aster hospital in Mussaffah followed by a 150-bed Medcare hospital near Maqta Bridge in 2018 and another Aster facility on the island with 100 to 150 beds.

A 100-bed Aster hospital in Sharjah is expected to open in a year’s time. The group’s largest Medcare branded hospital – a 150-bed facility – will open on Sharjah’s King Faisal Street in September.

In Dubai, it expects to open a Medcare women and children’s hospital with 100 beds on Sheikh Zayed Road in the second quarter of this year and a 150-bed Aster hospital in Al Qusais by the end of next year.

The company has invested Dh1.25 billion on seven projects in the UAE. “We know there is stiff competition in Abu Dhabi and so we are starting with only a few hundred beds there,” Ms Moopen said. “We are trying to build a hub and spoke model where the clinics will feed the hospitals.” The group has six clinics in the city.

Last year, Danat Al Emarat, a women and children’s hospital managed by Singapore’s Parkway Health, opened in the city with 150 beds.

NMC was expected to open a 250-bed NMC Royal Hospital on the outskirts of the capital at the end of last year.

With mandatory health insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the private healthcare sector has become more attractive for investors. “After compulsory health insurance was introduced in Abu Dhabi, the revenues of most of the private hospitals doubled in subsequent years, [and] Dubai healthcare sector is also expected to follow the same pattern,” said a 2014 report from Colliers International.

Dubai started implementing mandatory health insurance in 2014.

The patient share for the private healthcare sector in the UAE has also been increasing. In 2011, it had about two-thirds of the market, or 64 per cent of the total patient encounters, up from 50 per cent in 2006, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Meanwhile, Aster DM Healthcare may prefer to list in India rather than the UK, but has decided to hold off for a few months as it gauges the performance of the capital markets and of the new healthcare players in the stock market, Ms Moopen said.

In December, an IPO from India’s Dr Lal PathLabs, a diagnostic chain, raised 6.3 billion rupees (Dh342 million). The hospital chain Narayana Hrudayalaya, which listed in December, raised 6.1bn rupees.

Aster DM Healthcare has three hospitals in the UAE, two hospitals in Oman and one hospital in Saudi Arabia, 81 clinics in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the Philippines, and 174 pharmacies in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan.

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