Manipal Health in talks to buy India operations of Columbia Asia for Rs 1,600 crore

Bengaluru: Manipal Health Enterprises is in advanced talks to acquire the Indian operations of the Columbia Asia hospital chain from its US-based owners for about Rs 1,600 crore, people close to the matter told ET.

Columbia Pacific Management, which owns Columbia Asia, is looking at a complete exit from its India healthcare business, they said. The two sides are likely to make a formal announcement soon, the people said.

If the deal goes through, Columbia Asia will be rebranded Manipal Hospitals, which will likely become the second largest hospital chain in India with 26 hospitals and nearly 7,000 beds, behind Apollo Hospitals.

Manipal Hospitals chairman H Sudarshan Ballal declined to comment when ET contacted him. Columbia Pacific managing director Nathan McLemore, in an emailed response to ET’s questions, said his company was unable to provide any comment at this time.

“We will certainly notify you if and when we have something we can announce,” he said. The people ET spoke to said Manipal Education & Medical Group, which owns Manipal Health, was aiming to launch the chain under its own brand by April next year, provided it completed the deal by then.

Though the talks have been ongoing for some time, Manipal group executives have been tight-lipped about it, as two similar attempts in the past — for Fortis and Medanta — had not materialised after the discussions had shown promise.

Manipal Health and the Indian operations of Columbia Asia are based in Bengaluru. Billionaire Ranjan Pai-led Manipal Health runs 15 multispecialty hospitals — in Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur, Goa, Salem, Vijayawada and Mangaluru, and in Malaysia.

Private equity firm TPG Capital and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings own about 25% and 18%, respectively, in Manipal Health.

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