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ByteDance, owner of TikTok, has acquired China’s largest hospital chain specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology. Photo: Shutterstock

TikTok owner ByteDance buys China’s biggest private women and children’s hospital chain in major healthcare investment

  • ByteDance in June acquired Beijing-based Amcare, which runs eight hospitals across four Chinese cities, targeting expats and high-income locals
  • The TikTok owner’s healthcare arm currently runs an online medical consultation app, competing against similar offerings from Baidu, JD Health and others

ByteDance, operator of short video app TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, has acquired China’s largest private hospital chain specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, in one of the unicorn’s largest healthcare investments.

Beijing Amcare Medical Management Co, the corporate vehicle of Amcare clinics and hospitals, is now wholly-owned by two ByteDance affiliates, Xiaohe Health (Hong Kong) Ltd and Xiaohe Health Technology (Beijing) Co, according to changes made in company records in June, tracked by corporate information site Qichacha.

The takeover took place after Xiaohe Health Technology, the healthcare investment subsidiary of ByteDance, bought a 17 per cent stake in Amcare in September 2021, which later increased to 30 per cent, according to Qichacha.

Amcare runs eight hospitals across four Chinese cities, including Beijing. Photo: Handout

The State Administration for Market Regulation, China’s antitrust authority, gave its unconditional approval to the deal in mid-June, according to a notice on the regulator’s website.

None of the parties involved has disclosed the value of the deal. A representative from Xiaohe confirmed the acquisition on Friday, without offering further details.

Amcare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ByteDance’s purchase has allowed Amcare’s shareholders to cash out after the hospital chain stopped going public on ChiNext, a Nasdaq-style subsidiary of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, citing “strategic consideration” in its filing to China’s securities regulator.

Founded in 2006, Beijing-based Amcare runs eight hospitals across four Chinese cities. It specialises in maternity care, women’s health and paediatrics, targeting expats and high-income locals. It also has a licence to perform in vitro fertilisation via its acquisition of Beijing Baodao Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital.

A number of ByteDance executives – including Zhang Lidong, the company’s China chairman, and Sun Wenyu, head of commercial operation – joined Amcare’s board in late June, company records showed.
ByteDance revealed its healthcare ambitions in November 2020 with the launch of its Xiaohe business, which includes an online medical consultation app under the same name, and Xiaohe Doctor, an app that registers and conducts identity checks on doctors looking to connect with Xiaohe’s users.
Demand for internet healthcare services has skyrocketed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. At the height of the public health crisis in China earlier this year, free online consultations offered by providers helped ease the strain on local hospitals, while reassuring anxious patients.

China’s online healthcare market is forecast to reach 198 billion yuan (US$29 billion) by 2025, up from 22 billion yuan in 2020, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

ByteDance, however, faces stiff competition from larger rivals such as Baidu Health, Tencent Holdings-backed WeDoctor, JD Health and Alibaba Health – the flagship healthcare platform of Alibaba Group Holding, parent of the South China Morning Post.