Medical services firm looks to U.S.
Pitch to Wall Street investors for initial share sale of mainland industry leader iKangis expected to be aided by health-care reforms
Goldman Sachs-backed iKang Guobin Healthcare, mainland China’s leading privately held medical services provider, is considering launching an initial public offering in the United States next year.
The aim is to attract Wall Street investors ahead of what is shaping up as the mainland’s biggest public health care reform in decades.
Sources familiar with the matter said members of iKang’s board met recently to approve a plan to go public – most likely on Nasdaq – at an appropriate time next year.
Goldman’s internal alternative investment group, known as the Principal Investment Area (PIA) team, and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) – the city state’s sovereign wealth fund – bought a minority equity stake in iKang for US$100 million in April in a joint investment widely expected to be the last private capital injection before the company goes public.
Beijing-based iKang offers a wide range of health care-related services to individual and corporate clients on the mainland, including many from the country’s burgeoning number of middle-class families.
Its services include annual checkups, outpatient and dental services for individuals and health care management services for big companies.
The size of iKang’s proposed IPO remains unclear.
“Medical and health care-related business could be a big theme for investment in China next year,” said a veteran dealmaker at a major American investment bank.
“iKang won’t be the only one considering an IPO, and the trick to winning the IPO game is always to be the first to go; if it is the first to sell the health care reform story in China to Wall Street, the more interesting the story will sound.”
China’s top leadership revealed a package of policy initiatives to deepen market-oriented economic reforms following a key Communist Party meeting earlier this month.
Health care industry reform is among the new initiatives, with Beijing encouraging private investment to help the government revamp the mainland’s troubled public hospital system as it faces the challenge of a rapidly ageing population.
Before the investment by Goldman and GIC, iKang was valued at about 2 billion yuan (HK$2.53 billion) by several research and media reports.
Early investors in iKang, established in 2004, included Wall Street investment bank Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by Bank of America during the 2008 global financial crisis. UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch helped iKang secure this year’s investment from Goldman and GIC.
iKang tried to list in Hong Kong in the past few years but failed, largely owing to tough market conditions.
Its biggest rival is Ciming Health Checkup Management, which is planning a domestic IPO to raise about 500 million yuan.