August 21, 2018: NMC has been expanding within the Middle East on the back of rising demand for private healthcare as residents there are living longer and suffering from more chronic and lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes.
NMC was founded in 1973 by Mr B R Shetty, a Mangalorean pharmacist who arrived in Abu Dhabi with just $8 in his pocket.
It is the leading private healthcare operator in the Gulf with an international network of more than 125 hospitals across 17 countries.
Emirates-based private hospital group NMC Health has bought a British healthcare provider that owns four hospitals and is launching operations in Africa as it continues to follow a major global expansion strategy set out by its chief executive last year.
The company, which joined the FTSE 100 almost a year ago, has bought Aspen Healthcare for £10m, marking its first move into the UK healthcare market.
Aspen operates nine facilities across the country, including four hospitals, three of which are based in London.
The company’s expertise is in orthopaedics and oncology, two areas that are under-served in the United Arab Emirates. The hope is that the deal will lead to cross-referrals between countries and allow physicians to learn from each other.
NMC also plans to introduce its fertility services to the UK, initially through Aspen. However, Prasanth Manghat, the company’s chief executive, suggested NMC was looking to acquire separate fertility clinics in the UK as well.
Meanwhile, NMC has unveiled plans to target the sub-Saharan Africa market after signing a deal with the Kenyan government to run two hospitals in the capital Nairobi.
Many people in Kenya travel to the UAE for medical treatment, thanks to its close geographic proximity and relaxed visa regulations. Alongside the hospitals, NMC is opening a fertility clinic in Nairobi.
"Infertility represents a major reproductive health problem across Africa in general and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular," said Mr Manghat.
The Kenyan facility is expected to attract patients from Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
At the same time, NMC has bought IVF clinics in Sweden and Latvia for $25m (£19.6m), adding experienced physicians to its fertility team, including Swedish gynecologist Dr Mats Brännström, who recently conducted the world’s first uterus transplant.
The news came as NMC reported a 20pc rise in sales in the first half of its financial year to $932m. Pre-tax profits increased by the same measure to $118.7m in the six months to the end of June.
Shares in the company rose by 5pc to £42.52.
NMC has been on a major global acquisition spree since Mr Manghat took over running the company from its founder BR Shetty in March last year.
In its last full financial year, from January 2017 to December 2017, NMC spent $641m on acquisitions.
In January this year, NMC paid a further $207m for a stake in UAE-based cosmetic surgery specialist CosmeSurge and on Al Salam, a Saudi medical centres company. In June it formed a joint venture with authorities in Saudi Arabia that will become the second-largest healthcare operator in the Kingdom.