May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ramsay Health Care Ltd., Australia’s biggest operator of private hospitals, and Credit Agricole SA offered to buy most of Generale de Sante for about $1.1 billion to gain private hospitals in France.
Credit Agricole Assurances and Ramsay offered 16.75 euros a share for 83 percent of Paris-based Generale de Sante, Ramsay said in a statement. That values the stake held by Sante SA at about 784 million euros ($1.1 billion). The price offered is 8 percent above Generale de Sante’s close on May 9. The stock rose to its highest level in almost six years.
The deal would be the latest in a string of private hospital acquisitions in Europe. Korian in March bought Medica SA, a French operator of nursing homes, for about 1.07 billion euros, after Fresenius SE in February paid 3.07 billion euros for 43 hospitals in Germany owned by Rhoen-Klinikum AG. Ramsay, based in Sydney, has bought private hospitals in the U.K., France and Indonesia to help sustain profit growth, which is slowing in its home market.
Ramsay Sante, the joint venture making the approach, and its holders Ramsay and Credit Agricole Assurances, have a period of exclusivity that runs until June 6 to conduct due diligence and consider submitting a legally-binding offer, Ramsay said.
The Generale de Sante stake is held by Sante SA. DeA Capital, an Italian private equity firm, owns 43 percent of Sante. Mediobanca SpA, Italy’s biggest publicly-traded investment bank, holds 10 percent and the remaining 47 percent belongs to Generale de Sante Chairman Antonino Ligresti, according to a spokeswoman for DeA Capital.
Generale de Sante shares rose as much as 7.9 percent to 16.73 euros in Paris, the highest level since May 27, 2008.
Chris Rex, Ramsay’s chief executive officer, said in February last year that he would be willing to pay as much as A$1 billion ($937 million) to expand the company’s geographical reach.
Generale de Sante operates 75 health-care facilities in France with about 1.7 billion euros in annual revenue and 19,000 employees, Ramsay said in the statement.
Under the agreement with Credit Agricole, Ramsay would pay a maximum of 539 million euros for 57 percent of Generale de Sante if the deal goes ahead, the company said.