* Valuation seen at around A$4 billion
* Quality healthcare companies in high demand
By Maggie Lu Yueyang
SYDNEY, Jan 29 Australian hospital operator
Healthscope Ltd is considering three options for a sale process
to cash in on current strong demand for quality healthcare
assets, managing director Rob Cooke said on Wednesday.
"Definitely we will look at an IPO, maybe a trade buyer.
Another one is also to sell into a property trust. So three
options are under consideration," Cooke said in a telephone
Healthscope's private equity owners - TPG and Carlyle Group
- could realise about A$4 billion ($3.5 billion) from the
sale, a source with knowledge of the transaction told Reuters.
While no decision has been made, an IPO looks more likely at
the moment, following recent successful listings for private
equity assets in Australia, the source said.
"There is a shortage of healthcare stocks. Healthscope's
performance has been very good over last three years. There is a
great growth profile going forward," Cooke said, noting high
demand for healthcare companies such as Ramsay Health Care Ltd
Shares in Ramsay, a bigger rival in private hospital
operations, jumped 59 percent in 2013, while Sonic Healthcare
Ltd rose 24 percent, against a 15 percent gain for the
Eight banks, namely Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CIMB,
Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Capital,
Morgan Stanley and UBS have been invited to pitch for
participation in the sale process, the Australian Financial
Reuters source, who cannot be identified because some
details of the discussions are private, said the winning banks
should be selected within a few weeks.
Healthscope, which owns 44 private hospitals in Australia
and pathology operations in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and
New Zealand, reported A$328 million in operating earnings before
finance costs, income tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) for the year ending June 2013.
Ramsay, which reported A$599 million in EBITDA over the same
period, is currently trading at a market valuation of A$8.7
TPG and Carlyle, which beat KKR in 2010 in bidding for
Healthscope, each own 50 percent of the company.
Australia's IPO market has staged a comeback since late last
year following a few lean years post the global financial
crisis, with some big deals including the A$636 million debut of
Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd.