UK's Bupa, 3 funds short-listed to buy Poland's Lux Med -sources

WARSAW Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:56am EST

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WARSAW Nov 23 (Reuters) - British medical services group Bupa will compete with three private equity funds to acquire Poland's leading health services provider Lux Med, three independent market sources said on Friday.

Lux Med's owner, Mid Europa Partners (MEP) fund, has short-listed Bridgepoint, BC Partners and EQT alongside private health insurer Bupa in the running for Lux Med, which is valued by analysts at around 1 billion zlotys ($314 million), the sources said.

Private health services have expanded rapidly in Poland since the fall of communism as a more convenient, albeit expensive, alternative to the underfunded public sector.

The market is becoming saturated, however, with Lux Med facing the likes of the Warsaw-listed Swissmed, and EMC Instytut Medyczny, or Medicover and Enel-Med.

An insurer could add a cross-selling boost to its business, analysts say.

MEP wants to sell Lux Med after building it into a group with more than a million clients and 72 medical centres around the country.

"Four are left: Bupa, Bridgepoint, BC Partners and EQT," one of the sources said on the condition of anonymity. "The sale should close around half January next year."

The other two sources confirmed the names of the short-listed bidders, with one of them saying the offers valued Lux Med at more than 10 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

Reuters sought comment from the short-listed bidders, but none was available for comment. MEP declined to comment.

Local media have also mentioned funds Montagu, Blackstone, and Warburg Pincus, as well as Vienna Insurance Group, Italy's Generali, and Poland's PZU as being potentially interested in buying Lux Med.

State-controlled insurance company PZU, the largest in the region, had said it was looking at buying Lux Med but the price proved too high.

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