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Wockhardt, Apollo eye Saudi Arabia market

By Prabodh Chandrasekhar in Mumbai
March 16, 2006 09:24 IST
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Wockhardt and Apollo Hospitals are in talks with Saudi Arabia-based Batterjee group for setting up hospitals and clinics in the kingdom through joint ventures.

"Hospitals like Wockhardt and Apollo have expressed interest in setting up healthcare centres in Saudi Arabia," said Mazen M Batterjee, vice-president, Batterjee Holding.

Apollo recently tied up with Saudi-based Fawaz Al Hokair group to set up three 250-bed, super-speciality hospitals and 10 clinics in the kingdom.

"Saudi Arabia offers enormous potential. Although we have tied up with one group in Saudi Arabia, we are open to more partnerships," said a senior official in Apollo Hospitals.

Batterjee group also intends to access Indian hospitals to Saudi nationals via medical tourism. Saudi Arabia has about 350 hospitals with more than 50,000 beds. In 2005, Saudi population spent $1.10 billion on pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

The Saudi government too is keen to have Indian hospitals in the kingdom. The interest furthered after the visit of Saudi king Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to India recently.

Volatility in oil prices have resulted in erratic economic performance in the kingdom, leading to fluctuating government spending on health and sporadic falls in imports of medical equipment and supplies.

The Saudi government is also worried about burgeoning population, which is growing at 3 per cent annually. The government has resorted to cost effective healthcare for its masses by inviting investments from Asian hospital and healthcare companies.

It is also encouraging its population to prefer countries like India over west for healthcare needs, said Batterjee. Batterjee was a special invitee of Ficci in the recently held Ficci conference on medical tourism in Mumbai. Batterjee group has presence in clinics, real estate, investment and trading.

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Prabodh Chandrasekhar in Mumbai
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