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October 01, 2005

The opportunity in the pathology labs business

Businessworld has a roundup of the consolidation and rising investor interest in the pathology labs business.
The Rs 2,000-crore industry in India is going through major change. When Businessworld looked at the pathology industry a year back ('Still In The Lab', 12 July 2004 edition), there were six clear leaders. Now there are four in that league. The top two - SRL Ranbaxy and Metropolis - have increased their lead over the rest, and Pathnet has been bought over by Metropolis. Of the rest, Dr Lal's Path Labs and Wellquest have expanded their reach. The sixth, Thyrocare, has moved off the top table. In the last one year, the number of its collection centres has fallen from 545 to 312.

...The top two groups are also trying their hand at clinical trials. While SRL Ranbaxy has instituted the 80-bed Oscar Clinical Research Centre at the Sunflag Hospital in Faridabad, Metropolis has set up a site management organisation to handle clinical trials at Sri Ramachandra Medical College in Chennai and MS Ramaiah Hospital in Bangalore.

Even with this, the top two are looking at garnering some international business. The next two - Wellquest and Dr Lal's - are emerging as strong domestic players. Wellquest, a chain promoted by Nicholas Piramal, now has a new lab in Delhi, seven other labs, and 60 collection centres. Dr Lal's, in which private equity firm WestBridge Capital has picked up a 26 per cent stake this year, has a central lab, 12 satellite labs and 110 collection centres in and around Delhi.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence India, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.