A doctor shows medical students a facility’s electronic medical records system in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)

Dubai's Aster DM Healthcare Plans 2018 IPO as Sentiment Improves

(Bloomberg) -- Aster DM Healthcare is planning an initial public offering next year as the Dubai-based medical provider seeks to take advantage of improved market sentiment for the Persian Gulf.

The company aims to sell 10 percent of shares by October 2018, with a listing either in Mumbai or London, Chief Executive Officer Alisha Moopen said Sunday in an interview in Dubai. Proceeds will be used to pay debt and expand, including through acquisition. Kotak Mahindra Capital will be lead manager of the issue, she said.

Aster DM filed a draft prospectus for an IPO last year, when low crude prices slowed growth in the oil-dependent Middle East and created uncertainties for companies. Aster DM operates clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and competes with Abu Dhabi-based NMC Health Plc, which has seen its shares jump 41 percent this year in London trading.

"We’ve restarted and we do believe it’s looking better," Moopen said at the company’s headquarters in Dubai. "It’s about finding when sentiments are fairly stable."

Aster, which also has medical facilities in India and Philippines, is looking to expand in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa, Moopen said. The company has a "fairly robust" number of patients from Africa traveling to its hospitals in India seeking medical treatment, according to Moopen. A joint venture would be the "ideal structure" to enter African cities, she said.

"We know Africa has huge potential, so we’ve got a small team there just looking at opportunities," Moopen said. "The biggest shortage is medical professionals."

The same banks that were hired for last year’s IPO are involved in the current plans, she said. They also include Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd., ICICI Securities Ltd., JM Financial Ltd. and SBI Capital Markets.