Australia's Ramsay Health to buy majority of France's Generale de Sante

SYDNEY, June 11 Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:37pm EDT

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SYDNEY, June 11 (Reuters) - Ramsay Health Care Ltd, Australia's largest private hospital operator, said on Wednesday it will buy a majority stake in Generale de Sante SA in a deal valuing its French counterpart at 945 million euros ($1.29 billion).

The purchase will make Ramsay France's largest private hospital operator with 101 hospitals and 15,400 beds. Like Australia, France has an increasingly aging population, which Ramsay said will create continued demand for its services.

The deal was revealed a month ago when the seller, Italy's DeA Capital SpA, said a joint venture of Ramsay and Credit Agricole Assurances - the insurance arm of bank Credit Agricole SA - bid 16.75 euros a share for 83.43 percent of the company.

On Wednesday, Ramsay said it and its joint venture partner have now signed a contract for the purchase. Ramsay said it will pay up to 515 million euros for 57 percent of Generale de Sante.

The transaction is subject to regulatory clearance and will lead to an offer by Ramsay and Credit Agricole to buy the rest of Generale de Sante shares, Ramsay said.

Shares in Generale de Sante have gained 11 percent since DeA first disclosed the bid, and last traded at 17.17 euros.

Ramsay shares were up 1.3 percent at A$45.12 while the broader Australian market declined.

($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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