BC Partners to exit GHG for £2.2bn

A consortium including Apax Partners and a South African private hospitals operator has agreed to acquire UK private healthcare business General Healthcare Group.

European buyout firm BC Partners has agreed to sell UK private hospital operator General Healthcare Group (GHG) to a buyout team including Apax Partners for £2.2 billion (€3.1 billion; $3.9 billion).

Netcare, a Johannesburg-based private hospital operator, has bid for GHG alongside Apax Partners, UK property company London and Regional Properties, and Brockton Partners, a UK opportunity fund established by David Marks and Jason Blank in 2005.

Netcare will own 50.1 percent of GHG following the deal, for which Dresdner Bank and Barclays Capital are providing debt finance.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the Netcare-led group beat off competition from a number of private equity firms, including Cinven, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and The Blackstone Group.

GHG is a provider of private acute care in the UK with a national network of 49 hospitals. The company reported gross revenue and EBITDA of £612 million and £164 million respectively for the year ended 31 December 2005.

BC Partners originally acquired GHG from Cinven for £1.275 billion in September 2000. Cinven purchased Compagnie Generale de Sante, a group comprising GHG and France’s Generale de Sante for £580 million in July 1997, before separating the businesses and merging GHG with hospital operator Amicus Healthcare in December 1997.

Netcare said the acquisition would establish it as one of the world’s largest healthcare groups, with 120 hospitals and ambulatory day care centres and over 11,500 beds under management.

Apax Partners’ recent investments in the healthcare sector include Molnlycke Health Care, a Swedish manufacturer of medical supplies; Regent Medical, a UK producer of antiseptics and surgical gloves; and MediMedia, one of the four largest healthcare publishing companies in the world.