UPDATE 1-Pamplona in talks to buy Turkish hospitals group-source
By Birsen Altayli and Seda Sezer
ISTANBUL, April 22 (Reuters) - London-based private equity fund Pamplona Capital Management is in exclusive talks to buy a majority stake in Turkish hospitals group Medical Park, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Carlyle Group, the U.S. private equity firm, acquired a 40 percent stake in Medical Park in 2009 for an undisclosed amount alongside Turkish businessmen Muharrem Usta and Haydar Sancak, who each own 30 percent.
Pamplona is backed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, which was a cornerstone investor of the private equity fund when it was established in 2005.
"It will take a couple of months to complete the talks," the source said. "In these talks it will become clear how much each will sell," the source said.
Private equity investors favour Turkey's fast growing services industries, including healthcare and education, attracted by a near tripling in nominal per capita GDP over the past decade and a population of 76 million.
The private healthcare sector is growing rapidly, with more people taking out private health insurance and state hospitals stretched. In February, parliament passed new regulations aimed at making private investment easier.
Sources said the existing three shareholders may all retain stakes in Medical Park if the sale goes ahead.
Medical Park runs 19 hospitals and medical centres across Turkey and has around 9,000 employees, according to its website.
Pamplona and Carlyle declined to comment.
Carlyle and the other two shareholders said in September Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse had been appointed to look into a possible sale or listing of the hospitals group.
People familiar with the situation told Reuters last month that Medical Park's owners, led by Carlyle, were considering a sale or public offering.
The hospital group's chairman said in December a planned stake sale might be completed in the first half of 2013.