Life Healthcare Seeks Growth India, Africa; Profit Slows

Life Healthcare Group Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s second-largest private-hospital owner by market value, will seek expansion opportunities in India and Africa as profit growth slowed.

Net income increased 15 percent to 790 million rand ($86.4 million) in the six months through March, compared with a 25 percent gain a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. Paid patient days rose 1.5 percent, compared with 6 percent in 2012.

“Despite a tougher economic environment, the group expects to see increased demand for hospital services, and the additional growth in medical cases is expected to continue,” the company said. “The group will continue to look for additional growth opportunities in India and Africa.”

Life Healthcare plans to add 1,000 beds in South Africa over three to four years while Indian acquisition Max Healthcare is expected to deliver an improved performance. Life Healthcare owns a 26 percent stake in Max, a unit of Max India Ltd., and wants to increase its stake to 50 percent.

“The underlying fundamentals in India for private hospital services are strong,” the company said. Max Healthcare, India “will continue to show improved revenues and EBITDA margins.”

Life Healthcare shares gained 3.5 percent to 36.85 rand by the close in Johannesburg, the most since April 10. The stock has gained 8.4 percent this year. Mediclinic International Ltd., South Africa’s largest private hospital owner by market value, has advanced 27 percent and Netcare Ltd. 3.2 percent.

Life Healthcare will pay a half-year dividend of 54 cents a share, an increase of 20 percent.

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