(Bloomberg) — Dubai’s Foundation Holdings Co. bought a stake in a Saudi Arabia-based primary health chain, marking its second investment in the kingdom’s fast-growing market for medical care, and said it plans to list the firm in the next two years.
The healthcare and education investment firm acquired 51% of Shifa Al Munthaza Polyclinic, Chief Executive Officer Abhishek Sharma said in an interview. Foundation Holdings plans to invest about 250 million riyals ($67 million) in Saudi Arabia’s primary healthcare sector, he said, almost half of which was spent on the Shifa deal.
The kingdom’s primary healthcare market is expected to grow to 50 billion riyals in 2025 from 28.6 billion currently. “Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is one the fastest growing markets in the region,” Sharma said. “We invest in local champions to make them bigger and stronger, and then we take them public and make them more sustainable.”
Shifa Al Munthaza was established in 1992 and serves over a million patients annually through 16 facilities. EFG-Hermes Holding acted as a financial adviser on the transaction, with King & Spalding and Khalid Nassar & Partners serving as the legal counsel.
Foundation Holdings is planning to list Shifa and another Saudi portfolio company, medical devices distributor ProMedEx, in the kingdom — the Middle East’s top market for IPOs over the past year.
Both firms are expected to start trading on Nomu, the parallel market for smaller listings in Riyadh, over the next 18-24 months. Sharma said each company is currently worth about 500 million riyals, and valuations could rise to 750 million to 1 billion riyals in the next three to five years.
“In the market volatility caused by the pandemic, the healthcare sector has broadly outperformed,” he said in a statement. “We are convinced that Saudi Arabia is set to become a focal point for healthcare.”
Sharma added that Foundation Holdings is weighing other acquisition opportunities in Riyadh and in the kingdom’s eastern province.
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