Private healthcare giant to be sold to smaller rival

BMI Healthcare to be bought out by hedge fund-owned Circle Health

The country’s largest private hospital chain, BMI Healthcare, is to be sold off to Circle Health in one of the biggest hospital deals in a decade.

The acquisition, which is expected to be completed by January, marks a major expansion for the smaller, private-equity-owned Circle Health.

And the sale will create a UK private hospital giant, with combined annual revenues approaching £1billion and 57 hospital sites.

Circle hit the headlines when it took over the operation of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, the first NHS hospital to be managed by a private company.

This deal is one of the most-significant events in the hospital market for almost a decade

But the trailblazing £1billion deal came to an end in 2015 when the firm pulled out of the deal just three years into a 10-year contract amid financial troubles and mounting criticism of its performance.

The group now has two private hospitals in the UK, and is planning to open a third, as well as running musculoskeletal services for the NHS.

It has also won a number of industry awards in recent years, including the Building Better Healthcare Clinician's Choice Award in 2016 for its Telederm virtual dermatology service; and was named LaingBuisson Private Hospital Group of the Year in 2015.

And it is understood to be outperforming other hospital groups in growing private patients, with a recent report from investment bank, Berenberg, saying that 'Circle Health appears to be a frontrunner in the use of digital channels'.

BMI Healthcare has 54 hospitals in the UK and had revenues of £887m in the year to September 30, 2017.

Julian Evans, head of healthcare at Knight Frank, said: “This deal is one of the most-significant events in the hospital market for almost a decade.

“The sector faces some big challenges, but Circle has the potential to reinvigorate the sector.”

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