Dubai-based hospital group Aster DM Healthcare is planning to invest up to Dhs500 million in the GCC over the next two years through new clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, according to a senior official.
Speaking to Gulf Business at the sidelines of the ongoing Arab Health exhibition, the group’s Corporate Strategies Director Alisha Moopen said that the bulk of this investment will be in the UAE.
Aster DM Healthcare, which runs Aster Medical Centres and Medcare Hospital, announced major expansion plans last year with the launch of three mega health projects in the UAE.
The Dubai-based firm said that it is looking to construct two facilities in Dubai and one in Sharjah with a joint bed capacity of 270. Out of these, Aster has announced the opening of a 100-bed hospital in Mankhool.
These are in addition to the $300 million super specialty project called Aster Medicity in India.
“We had a good year with a top line growth of over 35 per cent and a large number of units launched in 2014,” said Moopen.
“We invested over $150 million in India over the last year and a half while a $100 million was invested in the GCC.”
Although the group has diversified its investments geographically over the last few years, Moopen said that the UAE is their strongest market.
“Largest growth still comes from the UAE and Dubai for us,” she added.
The UAE’s healthcare industry has been booming over the last few years with increased government spending and favourable regulations such as the introduction of mandatory health insurance.
In order to capitalise on this growth, Aster also launched a new brand called Access in 2014, targeting the lower income population in the UAE.
“They are the ones who will benefit the most from the mandatory insurance that was introduced. So it is a low frills brand with the same quality care,” said Moopen.
The brand already has 10 units in the UAE, with Aster planning to launch it in Oman and Qatar soon.
Aster has also seen a massive growth in the number of pharmacies it operates, adding 70 units to the market in 2014. The pharmacies run by the group currently total 170 in the UAE and will number 225 at the end of 2015, Moopen said.
The group’s network of medical centres too will grow in the coming year.
“In terms of medical centres, we have around 60 units in the UAE itself. We have actually added 25 to 30 units in the last year.
“We will have a further 40 clinics opening up in 2015 and 10 more by March 2017.”
This is in line with the group’s plan to add 300 pharmacies, 50 Aster medical centres and 20 Medcare units by 2017.
Aster is also planning to launch an initial public offering by 2016, the company said last year.
Although no further details have been released regarding the IPO, previous reports have indicated that the group is looking at a potential listing in London, Dubai or in India.