Investors looking to China's private healthcare

Updated: 2013-06-09 07:16


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BEIJING - Domestic and foreign funds have been pouring into China's private healthcare firms to seek enormous opportunity as the country's population becomes mature and more affluent, according to a report from Chinese business publication Caixin.

China's three biggest private healthcare service providers -- Ikang Guobin Healthcare Group, Ciming Health Checkup Management Group and Meinian Onehealth Healthcare (Group) Co -- have attracted significant amounts of investment in recent years, Caixin reported.

Ikang Guobin raised $100 million in April from investment bank Goldman Sachs and Government of Singapore Investment Corp.(GIC),Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, according to the magazine. Beijing Carlyle Investment Center LP invested over 200 million yuan ($32 million) in Meinian Onehealth in August 2012.

While investors are eager to gain a foothold in the healthcare market, the market value of private healthcare firms has been overestimated and they face huge challenges ahead, Caixin said.

With their main business being physical checkups, private healthcare firms account for only 10 to 15 percent of the country's physical exam market at present, while the lion's share goes to state hospitals.

According to Caixin, the top three players have adopted different strategies to tackle the challenges. Ikang Guobin has made moves to collaborate with hospitals to bridge the gap between checkups and an appointment with a doctor in a hospital, while Meinian Onehealth has tried to incorporate the traditional Chinese medicine into its operations.

With the market share of state hospitals in the physical examination industry expected to head downward, private healthcare firms are poised to take up nearly half of the country's checkup business in the future if their strategies prove effective, Caixin quoted an analyst as saying.