In SA, the words "affordable" and "healthcare" are probably contradictory, yet this is the niche RH Bophelo hopes to occupy with its listing on the JSE last week as a special-purpose acquisition company.

This means the company is effectively a shell, mandated to acquire infrastructure assets in healthcare. It is the first such black-owned health entity to list on the JSE and only the sixth non-equity investment in its sector. Trading in RH Bophelo’s shares opened at R10. In late trade on Tuesday, the share price had reached R10.50. So far, it has raised R500m to invest in hospitals that are already in operation, other healthcare projects including medical funds as well as related subsectors. Although it clearly defines its target market as that vast number of patients for whom public healthcare is inadequate but private hospitals are unaffordable, it is by no means a low-risk investment. Much will depend on the company’s ability to find infrastructure in which to invest before the JSE’s two-year deadline flies past. Two success factors are critical: the quality of its managers; and the assumption that the company’s status as a black-owned entity will result in its being favoured for...

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