PineBridge buys 50 pct stake in Turkish therapy and rehab chain

DUBAI, March 25 Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:56am EDT

DUBAI, March 25 (Reuters) - The Middle East unit of New York-based investment manager PineBridge Investments said it had bought a 50 percent stake in a Turkish physical therapy and rehabilitation services chain, as part of a plan to acquire income-generating real estate assets.

The stake in Romatem, which has a network of four facilities in three major Turkish cities, is PineBridge's second investment in Turkey and its third deal in the Middle East. It was bought from founders of Romatem.

It also represents a vote of confidence in Turkey's economy, which has been hit in recent months by currency instability and a corruption scandal that has shaken Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

Talal al-Zain, head of PineBridge's Middle East operations, declined to reveal how much his company had paid for the stake but said PineBridge would support Romatem's growth plans, which include establishing hospitals and clinics across Turkey and expanding internationally.

"This is a milestone deal for us given the importance of the Turkish market and the opportunities for this sector," he told Reuters on Tuesday.

"The plan is to expand the chain across Turkey and bring it to the Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."

PineBridge, which manages over $69 billion in assets, appointed Zain, former chief executive of Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, to head its Middle East and North Africa business in 2012 and set up its regional headquarters in Manama.

Since 2011 PineBridge has owned a stake in Turkey's Ulusal Faktoring A., a non-bank financial services company which provides financing to small and medium-sized companies across the country.

Last November, PineBridge acquired a campus operated by Dubai-based schools company GEMS Education. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)