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Temasek-backed hospital chains Manipal and Medica on expansion spree in eastern India

However, it is unlikely that Manipal and Medica will compete with each other while charting out their own growth paths. The twin chains are likely to follow an informal arrangement not to step into the other’s territory

Sambit Saha Calcutta Published 05.10.23, 10:51 AM
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Temasek-backed hospital chains Manipal and Medica are on an expansion spree in the east with plans to add about 1,500 beds in the region, including a significant share earmarked for Bengal.

Manipal Hospitals is planning at least three more hospitals, including two in this state, as India’s second largest healthcare chain looks at consolidating further after its acquisition of AMRI Hospitals from the Emami group.

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The Bangalore-based healthcare group sees vast potential in the east which continues to send patients in droves to hospitals in South India. Manipal plans to add 750 more beds at an investment of close to Rs 900 crore in the new facilities in 3-5 years, adding to its tally of 2,000 beds in the medium term.

Calcutta-based Medica Hospitals, which is majority owned by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, is also eyeing a foothold in Guwahati and Varanasi, expanding its capacity to 2,000 beds from 1,200 beds it has now.

Medica, which operates a 600-bed super speciality hospital on Calcutta’s EM Bypass, is in the midst of an expansion, adding to its capacity in Siliguri and Ranchi, while building a cancer hospital in Asansol at an investment of Rs 400 crore. The leap from 1,500 to 2,000 beds may call for another Rs 400 crore investment.

However, it is unlikely that Manipal and Medica will compete with each other while charting out their own growth paths. The Temasek-backed chains are likely to follow an informal arrangement not to step into the other’s territory.

The AMRI acquisition had propelled Manipal to a formidable position in the east with 2,000 beds — 900 in Calcutta alone. Dilip Jose, managing director and CEO of Manipal Hospitals, said the chain would look at other towns and cities in Bengal for two more facilities and one in Odisha.

“We don’t create a hospital without at least 250 beds. That’s a minimum that we look at,” Jose said at the sidelines of CII Healthcare East in Calcutta on Wednesday.

A 250-bed facility would typically call for an investment of Rs 300 crore, sans the building and real estate cost, Jose added. Manipal is increasingly looking at a model where the property would be built to Manipal’s specifications by a realtor and the hospital chain would stump up expenses for interior and medical technology and take the property on lease. At present, it is building three hospitals under such a model in Bangalore and Raipur.

For Medica, the expansion to Varanasi and Guwahati could be through acquisitions. “We have committed Rs 400 crore to reach 1,500 beds, with a focus on cancer care. In order to get to 2,000, it could be greenfield or acquisition,” said Ayanabh Debgupta, co-founder & joint managing director of Medica Hospitals.

The expansion by Temasek-backed entities is in line with other city-based hospital chains such as Peerless, Woodlands and Charnock and national chains such as Apollo and Fortis.

Rupak Barua, CEO of AMRI Hospitals, said Bengal was a recipient of patients from other parts of the east and neighbouring countries and the share of such groups of patients is on the rise.

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