German hospital chain Asklepios widens margin on cost cuts

FRANKFURT, April 10 Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:30am EDT

FRANKFURT, April 10 (Reuters) - Germany's second-largest private hospitals chain Asklepios Kliniken GmbH, which sources have said may seek a stock market listing, widened its core earnings margin to 9.8 percent last year, edging past rival Rhoen-Klinikum.

Citing preliminary figures, Asklepios said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 6.4 percent to 284 million euros ($393 million), on sales of 2.9 billion, helped by cost cuts and the purchase of a speciality clinic. The firm's 2012 EBITDA margin was 9.5 percent.

The EBITDA margin at closest rival Rhoen narrowed to 9.1 percent last year from 10.2 percent in 2012, hobbled by organisational problems at university teaching hospital Giessen-Marburg.

Asklepios, however, remained less profitable than the hospital industry's No.1 Helios, a unit of Fresenius, where EBITDA rose 18 percent to 508 million euros last year for a margin of 15 percent.

The owner of Asklepios is considering a stock market listing, among other options, to give the firm access to more funding in a rapidly consolidating industry, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in February.

Bernard Broermann, the group's owner and founder, is keen for the firm to remain independent, while the Helios unit of diversified healthcare group Fresenius is growing fast by scooping up hospitals.

Fresenius in February wrapped up the purchase of 40 hospitals and 13 outpatient facilities from Rhoen for a price of about 3 billion euros.

Asklepios is due to report detailed 2013 results on April 29.

($1 = 0.7285 euros) (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Keiron Henderson)