Mediclinc Midstream. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mediclinc Midstream. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mediclinic is to combine its Geneva-based Clinique La Colline with privately held Clinique des Grangettes as it moves to grow its Swiss footprint.

The private hospital group, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, with secondary listings on the JSE and Namibia’s NSX, will pay R1.063bn to retain a 60% controlling stake in the merged entity, it announced on Tuesday.

Mediclinic is one of SA’s three biggest private hospital groups, with operations in Southern Africa, Switzerland and the Middle East. It also holds a 29.9% stake in UK hospital group Spire Healthcare.

Vestact director Paul Theron said the Swiss private health-care market remained attractive, despite the regulated environment. There was no negative sentiment towards private health-care in Switzerland, and it was a superb market for Mediclinic to be in, because it had a wealthy and ageing population, he said. “The bigger the better,” Theron said.

Fairtree Capital portfolio manager Jean-Pierre Verster said the transaction would help consolidate Mediclinic’s position in Switzerland, where it operates 17 hospitals and four clinics.

It has not been all smooth sailing for Mediclinic since it bought the Swiss hospital group Hirslanden in 2007, as it has had to contend with regulatory changes that have put margins under pressure.

More regulatory intervention is on the horizon, as the federal government is expected to implement new rules in 2019 that will require certain procedures to be performed on a less profitable outpatient basis. Several cantons, including Zurich, have already begun doing so.

Hirslanden CEO Ole Wiesinger said the transaction was in line with the company’s strategy to diversify its healthcare services, and would position Hirslanden as the leading private health-care provider in Geneva. The transaction would enable Hirslanden to offer medical services it was currently unable to provide, and provide cost efficiencies.

Clinique des Grangettes is more than a century old and has state-of-the art facilities, according to Mediclinic.

Its owner, Philippe Glatz, will serve on the board of the combined business, which will retain key members of the current management team, including Clinique La Colline’s current director, Gilles Rufenacht.

Mediclinic said it would finance the deal with cash, and the transaction was expected to boost earnings.

It has the option to buy the remaining 40% in the combined entity within the next four years.

Mediclinic will combine the operating companies of Hirslanden Clinique La Colline and Pidji Healthcare, the holding company for the Clinique des Grangettes group of companies.

The transaction is expected to take effect in October, subject to approval by the Swiss competition authorities.

Mediclinic also responded to the Day Hospital Association’s call last week for the competition authorities to prohibit its acquisition of a shareholding in Intercare Holdings, pointing out that the Competition Commission had granted unconditional approval for the transaction in August.

The Competition Commission’s decision confirmed that day clinics were a separate market that competed with hospitals for same-day surgeries, Mediclinic said.