Exclusive: Two groups, one backed by China's Fosun, bid for NMC Health stake - sources

DUBAI/ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Two groups, including one backed by China's Fosun 0656.HK, have made competing offers to buy a 40% stake in London-listed NMC Health NMC.L worth up to $1.9 billion, four sources familiar with the deal said.

FILE PHOTO: An NMC Specialty Hospital, part of the NMC Healthcare group which listed in the London Stock Exchange, is seen in the Al Nahda area of Dubai April 29, 2012. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

The target stake is jointly owned by the chairman of Abu Dhabi-based investment firm KBBO Group, Khalifa Butti Bin Omeir, UAE-based businessman Saeed Bin Butti Al Qebaisi, and Infinite Investment, a vehicle linked to the two men.

The deal, which shows the growing interest of Chinese companies in the Middle East, could allow the UAE-based investors to realize significant gains after they bought the stake in 2011 for $1 billion.

However, they may choose to retain at least some of their current holding in the company, the sources said. NMC Health’s businesses include an extended portfolio of hospitals, day surgery centers, clinics and pharmacies across the UAE.

Its single biggest shareholder, B.R. Shetty, who is also the founder of the company, is not planning to sell his 19% stake, according to the sources.

The group is looking to pay a premium to NMC Health’s market price, two of the sources said. The stock is down about 30% year-to-date.

Neither NMC Health nor KBBO, which is representing the group of Emirati investors, would comment directly on the bids.

Prasanth Manghat, chief executive of NMC Health, said the firm is excited about its future prospects. “Management is committed to all shareholders, and all actions if pertaining to us will be in best interest of all shareholders,” he said.

A spokesman for KBBO said the shareholders “are committed for the long term and want to see value for the company”.

Fosun, whose businesses include pharmaceuticals, industrial operations, asset management, and insurance, could not be immediately reached for a comment.

Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Jan Harvey