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July 13, 2009

PE/VC firms bullish on Healthcare investments: Report

A new report released by research firm Venture Intelligence reveals PE investors are likely to focus specifically on segments like Diagnostic Services, Medical Devices, Hospital Chains and Wellness Products.

Private Equity and Venture Capital investors, who have invested over $2 billion into Healthcare & Life Sciences (HLS) companies in India over the last five years, are keen to step up the pace of investments in this industry, a newly released report by research firm Venture Intelligence indicates. A survey of over 60 PE & VC firms in the report titled “Private Equity Pulse on Healthcare & Life Sciences” shows that the investors are especially keen to tap into sectors like Diagnostic Services, Medical Devices / Equipment, Hospital Chains and Wellness Products and Services.

“Given the fragmented nature of both the hospitals and pharmaceuticals sectors, investors also see potential for tapping into consolidation opportunities in partnership with growth-oriented entrepreneurs,” points out Mr. Arun Natarajan, CEO of Venture Intelligence.

The report features articles by leading PE/VC investors (like Baring Private Equity India, India Value Fund and IDG Ventures India) as well as advisory firms (like The Parthenon Group, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC).

In the context of rising interest among PE firms to invest in the hospitals segment, The Parthenon Group provides a special perspective on how investors can pick the right firms to back in a sector characterized by wide variation in financial performance.

The KPMG article, providing an overview of the healthcare segment, points out how the sheer levels of under-penetration of healthcare services - in addition to factors such as a growing population, increasing disease profiles etc. – is one of the key growth drivers for the sector. Given the globalized nature of the sector, the fortunes of Indian pharmaceuticals firms are closely linked to trends in developed markets including those of the so-called “Big Pharma” firms. In a special article, an expert from PwC visualizes the global pharma landscape ten years ahead.

The article by India Value Fund delves into the nuances that make consolidating hospital chains - especially in Tier II and Tier III cities - an attractive opportunity for PE investors. Ernst & Young details how hospital chains can work towards replicating pockets of excellence across all owned and operated hospitals consistently and uniformly.

Baring Private Equity Partners India provides an interesting perspective on understanding innovation in the Indian context. An article from IDG Ventures India highlights the various opportunities that young companies can tap into by creating products and services to suit the unique needs of the Indian market.

Despite the overall optimism, the investor poll featured in the report indicates that PE/VC firms have a set of specific concerns relating to the HLS industry. Long gestation periods, scalability and talent shortage are among the top concerns for investors when it comes to the healthcare sector. In the Life Sciences segment, investors’ concerns are focused on the high risk of failure (especially in new drug R&D), stiff competition from inside and outside India, as well as patent-related issues. The “Entrepreneur’s Perspective” section of the report features how entrepreneurs – from companies which have already partnered with PE/VC investors like Avesthagen, Evolva Biotech, Metropolis Health Services, Ocimum Biosolutions and Sai Advantium - are addressing these concerns.

For the convenience of entrepreneurs, the report provides a listing of Private Equity and Venture Capital funds keen to invest in this industry. A directory of investment advisory firms, who provide value-added intermediation services with a special focus on HLS, is also included.

The report can be downloaded from http://www.ventureintelligence.in/pepulse_hls.htm