Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on March 12, 2010
Indian hospital operator Fortis Healthcare’s purchase of a big stake in Singapore-based Parkway Holdings could lead to a major shakeup in the global health-care industry. In Asia, Singapore has always been at the top of the pecking order of the medical tourism industry, which caters to people traveling to another country in order to get less expensive hip replacements, nose jobs and other types of operations. The city-state has some of Asia’s best doctors and hospitals, and within Singapore, Parkway has long enjoyed a reputation of being the best of the best. India has ambitions to be a major player in the medical tourism business, too. Indian hospitals are generally much less expensive than those in Singapore or other medical-tourism destinations such as Thailand or the Philippines. For instance, a hip replacement that costs $43,000 in the U.S. could cost $12,000 in Singapore and just $9,000 in India. (For more, see this slide show from 2008 comparing the cost of different operations.)
Convincing Americans to jet off to third-world India is a bit of a harder sell, though. By buying a 23.9% stake in Parkway from U.S. private equity firm TPG for $687 million, Fortis has now positioned itself to become the regional leader in medical tourism, with a strong presence in India (where it has 46 hospitals) for the most price-sensitive patients and a new base in Singapore for higher-end customers aiming for more luxury. Investors are pretty upbeat about the deal: Fortis shares today hit a twelve-month high of 187.4 rupees and are up 35% so far this year. Parkway investors are happy, too. The Singapore company hit a 52-week high of 3.3 Singapore dollars today.
BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.