JAKARTA/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Indonesia's PT Lippo Karawaci may sell as much as 49 percent of its unit Siloam Hospitals in a deal that would value the firm at more than $1 billion, drawing a slew of private equity firms to the sale as they bet on growth in healthcare spending in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, sources said.
Indonesia has one of the world's lowest healthcare spending-to-GDP ratios, but its rising middle class - which represents more than half of its population of 240 million - is expected to sharply increase its medical spending and drive growth in the sector over the coming years.
The country, which has Asia's third-largest population, is also starting to attract more private equity firms such as Blackstone Group L.P. and KKR & Co L.P. as they seek chances to invest in the region's fast-growing economies.
Lippo Karawaci, a property firm controlled by the billionaire Riady family via its global conglomerate Lippo Group, plans to sell a minimum of 20 percent of unit Siloam for between $200 million and $300 million, and has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to run the auction, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. First round bids are due on July 16, two of the sources said.
Lippo could sell as much as 49 percent of Siloam, Indonesia's largest private healthcare operator, if the bids match its target valuation of over $1 billion, one of the sources said.
The stake in Siloam is attracting early interest from Bain Capital, Blackstone and KKR, banking sources told Reuters. Other private equity funds showing an interest in bidding include Carlyle Group and TPG Capital with its affiliate Northstar, the sources said.
Sources declined to be named as the discussions were private. Bain and Carlyle declined to comment. Lippo Karawaci spokesman Danang Kemayan Jati declined to comment.
BofA, Blackstone, KKR, TPG did not respond to requests for comment.
The Riadys, who are looking to raise money to expand their business, have previously looked at an IPO for Siloam, and it is not certain they will proceed with a sale if valuations do not meet their expectations.
The Siloam Hospitals group, which represents around 30 percent of Lippo Karawaci's asset value, operates nine hospitals and is currently building four new ones.
"The Riadys expect Merrill to come back to them later this month to get a clearer sense of demand and valuation from investors," one of the sources said. "If the valuation is not as expected they may delay the plan until next year."
The auction will test investor appetite for Indonesia's $23 billion healthcare sector, but the country's stability and its growth potential, as well as expectations that its middle class will drive growth in coming years, are drawing global private equity funds into the country.
KKR and Blackstone are among the funds that are establishing Singapore offices and building teams to boost their Southeast Asia investments, including in Indonesia.
Bain Capital is also looking to hire executives as competition heats up for a new wave of investing opportunities in countries from Vietnam to Malaysia.
Carlyle and TPG have long-established deal teams for Southeast Asia, and TPG has made a number of investments in Indonesia, including a majority stake in PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional Tbk, valued around $1.3 billion.
Private equity funds see Indonesia's large family-run conglomerates as potential targets to acquire non-core businesses, and the Lippo Group has previously sold assets to CVC, including PT Matahari Department Stores, and a 49 percent stake in cable TV and Internet firm PT Link Net.
Private equity-backed acquisitions are down in all sectors in Asia year to date except healthcare, where year-on-year deal value doubled in the first half of 2012 to $669 million, according to recent Thomson Reuters data.
KKR has already completed two healthcare-related deals so far this year. In April the firm agreed to invest $65 million to acquire 24 percent of China Cord Blood Corp, and last month agreed to buy a majority stake in Australian healthcare firm GenesisCare in a deal which valued the company at up to A$600 million ($617 million).
($1 = 0.9720 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Janeman Latul in JAKARTA and Stephen Aldred in HONG KONG; Editing by Denny Thomas and Chris Gallagher