Thomson Medical – BT

Peter Lim goes from soccer to scalpels

Prominent investor launches general offer for Thomson Medical Centre at $1.75 a share, valuing the obstetrics and gynae services provider at about $513 million

FRESH from his foray into the soccer business, Singapore’s high-profile investor Peter Lim is now looking to find the back of the net with an investment of a different sort.

Once dubbed the ‘remisier king’, Mr Lim appears to be beefing up his investment portfolio with healthcare assets in a serious way.

Mr Lim yesterday offered to buy the rest of Thomson Medical Centre’s shares which he does not own, following his acquisition of a 39.34 per cent stake in the obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) services provider.

The offer, at $1.75 per share, represents a 62 per cent premium over Thomson Medical’s last traded price of $1.08, and values the company at about $513 million. It is also the highest price the company’s shares have ever been valued at since its listing in 2005.

The general offer was triggered by a married deal between Sasteria Pte Ltd, an investment holding company wholly owned by Mr Lim, and the founding Cheng family. Dr Cheng Wei Chen, who is known for delivering Singapore’s first triplets by in-vitro fertilisation, set up Thomson Medical more than 30 years ago. It was then largely a maternity hospital but has since grown to include paediatric, fertility, cancer and aesthetics services, as well as traditional Chinese medicine. It also operates seven O&G clinics across the island.

Explaining the rationale for the move, Mr Lim said in a statement: ‘Thomson Medical is a leading healthcare service provider in Singapore for obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatric services. Given the growing population and affluence in the region, there will be increasing demand for private healthcare services.

‘Singapore is a regional hub for such services and Thomson Medical is well-placed to tap on this demand. We believe it has potential to develop further as a regional healthcare company.’

The cash offer is conditional on Sasteria acquiring more than 50 per cent of Thomson Medical.

BT understands that Thomson Medical had been approached by other suitors before, being one of a handful of private healthcare providers here. On Tuesday, the group had announced full-year net profit of $15.88 million, 24.2 per cent higher than a year ago. For the 12 months ended August, revenue rose 21.2 per cent to $81.67 million.

According to previous media reports, Mr Lim, 57, also owns a 29.6 per cent interest in Malaysia’s TMC Life Sciences, a healthcare services provider specialising in fertility treatment, stem cell banking and stem cell therapy.

The stake, which was bought in August for an undisclosed sum, makes him the second-largest shareholder in TMC Life Sciences. TMC Life Sciences also runs a 180-bed hospital in Petaling Jaya.

A few months ago, Mr Lim raised his stake in Healthway Medical Corp to over 7 per cent. Although he has since sold down that interest, he still owns about 4.8 per cent in the primary healthcare chain.

Mr Lim is ranked Singapore’s eighth richest man by Forbes Asia with a net worth of US$1.6 billion. Mr Lim, who made his fortune in the stock market, has varied investments in sectors such as agribusiness, education, fashion, logistics, and F&B. The publicly-known holdings in his portfolio include Wilmar International, Global Logistic Properties, FJ Benjamin Holdings and Informatics Education.

A few weeks ago, Mr Lim also made headlines by launching a £300 million (S$622 million) bid for Liverpool Football Club. Although that deal did not go through, the prospect of a Singaporean-owned English football club generated excitement among local fans.

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