May 23, 2018 / 9:46 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-India's Fortis investors vote out fourth director after divisive investment decision

* Shareholders oust director Brian Tempest

* Tempest’s removal was sought by two investors

* Appointment of three independent directors approved (Adds new independent directors, background)

May 23 (Reuters) - Shareholders in India’s cash-strapped Fortis Healthcare Ltd voted out a fourth director, the hospital operator said on Wednesday, amid displeasure over the board’s handling of offers of investment.

Fortis has received five offers from local and international suitors wanting to invest in the firm or buy it. Though in need of funds, the company has become an attractive asset as private healthcare spending grows in India while the government expands access to insurance in a country lacking adequate health facilities.

At a shareholder meeting on Tuesday, attendees voted to remove director Brian Tempest, as sought by East Bridge Capital and Jupiter India. The two investors, who together control 12 percent of Fortis, have said the four board members failed to exercise fiduciary duties - a charge the four reject.

Investors also voted to approve Suvalaxmi Chakraborty, Ravi Rajagopal and Indrajit Banerjee as independent directors on the board, as sought by East Bridge and Jupiter.

Fortis’ board initially agreed to be taken over by Manipal Hospitals Enterprises in March before shareholders intervened. Earlier this month, the board voted to accept an investment offer from Hero Enterprise Investment Office and Burman Family Office for 18 billion rupees ($263.45 million), valuing Fortis at 90 billion rupees.

Five of the board’s eight directors voted for the latter offer, with investors responding by selling shares.

The offer was much lower than those of Manipal or Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Bhd, but it had waived due diligence to give Fortis quick access to funds needed to cut debt.

$1 = 68.3250 Indian rupees Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in BENGALURU and Zeba Siddiqui in MUMBAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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