Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK
Picture: MICHAEL ETTERSHANK

Black-owned healthcare company RH Bophelo will list on the JSE on Wednesday with a plan to give the big three private healthcare companies a run for their money through competitive rates.

The company, which will list initially as a special purpose acquisition company vehicle, has managed to raise R500m, which will be used to acquire commercially viable infrastructure assets such as those used for healthcare and education.

Founder Quinton Zunga, who has 16 years’ experience in investment banking and four years in private equity, said RH Bophelo would "only consider investment opportunities in SA and also in other sectors other than healthcare and education".

RH Bophelo would provide healthcare to lower to middle-income earners "who cannot afford private healthcare as it is currently structured in SA", said RH Bophelo chairman John Oliphant.

It would also provide investors with access to a "highly sought-after asset class associated with high growth, cash generative returns and direct real asset exposure to the defensive healthcare sector", he said.

Noncommunicable diseases are on the rise in SA, and the public sector, which serves 80% of the population, continues to fail citizens, while private care is unaffordable for many.

While there was appetite for new companies and new ideas, RH Bophelo was a "small listing that would probably see retail type interest from the market", Rowan Williams, a fund manager at Nitrogen Fund, said.

"It comes down to how investors will evaluate it and the prospects it presents."

It was critical that the special purpose acquisition company model allowed RH Bophelo to list quickly as opportunities identified could in the meantime dwindle or be scooped up by the major hospital groups, RH Bophelo’s corporate finance adviser, Dean McHendrie, said.

Two years ago, Zunga started a private equity fund that drew in investors and gathered a total of R1.4bn, which was used to build hospitals in various parts of the country.

The company aims to take advantage of the pipeline of opportunities that Zunga and his team of healthcare specialists were exposed to while running the private equity fund.

RH Bophelo hopes that its black economic empowerment status will give it access to concessions, including access to licences, which the big three hospitals — Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare — have struggled to obtain.

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