Ramsay Looks to Spend Up to $1 Billion on Acquisition

Ramsay Health Care Ltd. (RHC), Australia’s biggest operator of private hospitals, may pay as much as A$1 billion ($1 billion) on acquisitions to expand its geographical reach, Chief Executive Officer Chris Rex said.

“We’d be ideally looking for something at a reasonable scale rather than a small hospital,” Rex said in a phone interview yesterday. “Something between half a billion, a billion dollars Aussie, something of that nature, I would imagine would be the sort of scale we’d be looking for.”

Ramsay, which has hospitals in Australia, France, the U.K. and Indonesia, wants to expand into a new country and “could do very well” in Southeast Asia, Rex said. Net income rose 10 percent to A$138.4 million in the first half ended December, Sydney-based Ramsay reported yesterday.

“We’ve been reviewing opportunities for last two to three years and not been able to land anything,” Rex said. “It’s not indicative of our enthusiasm or how serious we were taking it.”

The Australian currency traded at $1.0248 yesterday, extending its longest stretch above parity with the U.S. dollar since it was freely floated in 1983.

Ramsay listed acquisitions as part of its growth strategy in a results briefing, and said they must add long-term value.

The company would fund purchases through debt and has a facility in place for “over a billion dollars,” Rex said. Ramsay has an internal team exploring acquisition opportunities and hasn’t hired external advisers, he said.

Ramsay gained 1 percent to A$30.89 in Sydney trading yesterday, compared with a 1 percent drop for the S&P/ASX200 Index. The stock has advanced 13 percent this year, after climbing 41 percent in 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at nkhan51@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

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