After acquiring Wockhardt Hospitals for Rs 909 crore, Fortis Hospitals is now scouting for more acquisitions in India and abroad.
Malvinder Mohan Singh, Group Chairman, Religare and Fortis Healthcare spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues. Excerpts:
On the effects of the global economic downturn
I think we have tried to stay focussed on growing our businesses and making sure that the fundamentals are right. We have, fortunately, seen the businesses move from strength to strength every quarter. In our health care business we have been able to grow rapidly. We have had good growth in revenues and margins have grown. Our scale at a national level has also expanded quite considerably in terms of new projects, some the projects that we have been running in terms of hospital management and also through acquisitions.
On new acquisitions in the healthcare space
There is clearly a lot of opportunity in the healthcare space, especially given the large gap in demand and supply that is there in the Indian system. There is a lot of scope for growth opportunities for existing as well as new players to take in the creating a healthcare delivery mechanism and provide India with a more robust, effective and efficient healthcare system. No matter at what level we are today, the growth opportunity is absolutely phenomenal. We will continue to invest a lot more (healthcare) infrastructure creation and being able to come closer to patients. We will engage in a proactive manner to drive the scale and size to be able to play a significant role in the Indian healthcare delivery system.
On the acquisition of Wockhardt Hospitals
It is a win-win deal for Wockhardt as well as Fortis. A lot of people were interested in that asset. A lot of people looked at that asset. Eventually, we were able to come to a point where Wockhardt and Fortis agreed on the terms.
On going global in the healthcare space
There are lot of opportunities that come our way which are international in nature. The most important priority of the company is to strengthen and increase our presence in the Indian market space. We have close to 40 hospitals today and we are national player, but still the opportunities are phenomenal. We will continue to focus to build and increase our leadership place in the Indian market. Over a period of time, we will continue to evaluate international opportunities.
On the number of hospitals
That Fortis is looking to add in the coming years, I don’t want to be limited by a putting a figure to the number of hospitals that we plan to add. A year ago we were sitting at 28 hospitals. Today we are at 40. I see the opportunity to be multifold in terms of growth. I don’t know whether we are going 50, 100 or 200 more hospitals.
But what I can tell you is that we are going to grow aggressively, organically in terms of managing hospitals as well as through acquisitions.
On acquisition of mutual fund companies
We had looked at the acquisition of AIG’s asset management business at the global level.
Although we could get that, we will continue to evaluate and scout for opportunities at a global level and evolve Religare asset management business over the next few years into a truly global business.
On film and art funds
In terms of providing financial services and products to customers, this was an alternative investment. There was a demand from customers to create a structure where they could invest their money that is managed by people by investing these in different types of asset classes. There was a demand for the film industry and also art as alternative assets where people could put their money. We have funds where people invest money and we have people who understand these businesses and look at getting good return.