The Mercury

Life Healthcare has big expansion plans

- Sandile Mchunu

PRIVATE hospital group Life Healthcare aims to add more than 112 acute hospital brownfield beds in the next six months to its southern African operations as it continues to face low growth in earnings in the region.

The group also aims to add 22 mental health beds, 10 renal stations and one oncology unit.

“Further growth will come from the mental health beds added in the first half and at the end of 2016. Pressure on costs and occupancie­s will continue, and the group has implemente­d measures to mitigate the impact of these pressures and will continue to focus on driving efficiency programmes,” the group said on Friday.

The group decided to undertake these decisions even though general market conditions in southern Africa are not expected to improve substantia­lly in the foreseeabl­e future.

“We expect continued pressure on acute hospital volumes. The group is well-positioned to continue driving its complement­ary services business through expansion in southern Africa and through Alliance Medical,” the group added.

Life Healthcare managed to raise R9 billion in a rights offer announced in November to purchase Alliance Medical group’s 93.78 percent controllin­g stake in the UK-based group.

The group said the acquisitio­n was initially funded through cash payment and debt bridge facilities, which have subsequent­ly been partially repaid through the successful completion of the rights offer.

The acquisitio­n of Alliance Medical would give Life Healthcare access to the UK, Italy and Ireland. Life Healthcare also operates in Poland and India.

In the six months to end March, the group announced that Alliance Medical has been acquired for R14.3bn. It said Alliance Medical would continue to execute on its growth strategies in both its existing territorie­s as well as new potential markets.

The roll-out of the PET-CT programme will continue in the UK and the business will start rolling out the CDCs with an initial focus on six sites.

In Germany, the business has acquired Eckert & Zieglers cyclotron division for €13 million (R189.3m) effective this month.

“This extends Alliance Medical’s molecular imaging presence in northern Europe and supplement­s PET-CT scanning services across the region as well as the radiopharm­acy facilities in the UK and Italy.

“This creates the largest European integrated radiotrace­r supply and imaging organisati­on.”

Life Healthcare shares closed 0.31 percent higher at R29.38 on the JSE on Friday.

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