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UBS hives off hospital group

The Hirslanden Clinic in Zurich is one of 12 hospitals run by Hirslanden Holdings (onkozentrum.ch)

Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, has announced it is to sell its 91 per cent stake in the private hospital group, Hirslanden Holding, for SFr930 million ($630 million).

Hirslanden runs 12 private clinics across Switzerland with 3,000 staff and has a reputation for first-class health care.

Around a quarter of all heart operations carried out in Switzerland take place in Hirslanden clinics.

The bank named the buyer as Britain's BC Partners, which owns the General Healthcare Group, which in turn runs the largest chain of acute care hospitals in the United Kingdom.

UBS said it had supported the growth of Hirslanden over the past 12 years and had sought a buyer to continue its expansion.

"Hirslanden has successfully consolidated its leading position in Switzerland and now needs a strong partner for possible further expansion," UBS said in a statement.

"BC Partners, as the owner of General Healthcare Group, fulfils this requirement."

Divestment programme

The bank said the deal was part of a programme to divest non-core businesses and would be completed in the fourth quarter.

Analysts said the sale would add an extra SFr75 million to the bank's fourth-quarter profits.

The Hirslanden group was set up in 1990 through the merger of the Hirslanden Clinic with four other clinics belonging to the American Medical International Group.

Since then the group has expanded to comprise 12 private hospitals, treating a total of 68,000 patients per year. Group turnover in 2001 was SFr517 million.

In a statement, Hirslanden welcomed the sell-off as a new stage in its development, which would allow it "access to the European market" and enable it to move closer to its strategic goal as a European group.

UBS is due to unveil its third-quarter numbers on November 12.

swissinfo with agencies

Hirslanden summary

UBS is selling its 91 per cent stake in Hirslanden for SFr930 million.
The sale is expected to generate profit of SFr75 million.
The buyer is named as Britain's BC Partners, the owners of the General Healthcare Group.

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