Deal speculation drives NMC Health shares higher as profits rise

London-listed hospital operator NMC Health’s shares have soared on the back of speculation it could be the latest firm to be tapped by Asian buyers.

Reports that Chinese conglomerate Fosun was among two firms offering to buy a stake in the company came as the healthcare business recorded surging profits.

NMC reported a 22.5% rise in earnings before tax and interest to 323.5 million US dollars (£226 million) for the first six months of 2019.

The FTSE 100 improved profits on the back of a 32.6% jump in revenues to 1.23 billion dollars (£1.02 billion) for the period to June.

NMC, which largely operates in the Middle East, said it has been buoyed by the “continued demand for high quality healthcare access” in the United Arab Emirates and other key markets.

Prasanth Manghat, chief executive officer of the company, said: “NMC Health again achieved strong performance in the first six months of the year as we continue to deliver on our growth strategy in our attractive target markets.

“Our ability to perform strongly in a challenging environment testament to NMC’s strategy of developing niche, differentiated verticals in our core markets that provide the best possible care for our patients.

“2019 remains focused on integration and realisation of synergies from previous acquisitions.”

Shares in the company rose by 28.8% to 2,494p in early trading on Thursday.

Helah Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: “This dramatic rise in the share price can partly be explained by the news that broke last night that two groups made competing offers for a minority stake.

“This is good news for investors in the company whose share price slid over the last week for unexplained reasons according to management, although there are rumours that a well-known short seller was establishing positions.”

NMC’s recent strong performance has led to growing interest from overseas firms but the company did not comment on the sale speculation.

Rumours NMC could be snapped up by Fosun come days after Hong Kong’s CKA Group agreed a £2.7 billion deal to buy fellow FTSE firm Greene King.

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