Business

`Huge opportunities in healthcare sector in next 25 years’

Dr. Azad Moopen, Chairman and Managing Director, DM Healthcare

Dr. Azad Moopen, Chairman and Managing Director, DM Healthcare  

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Aster DM Healthcare plans large IPO issue later this year to scale up Indian operations

“We will treat you well” is the tagline promise of Aster DM Healthcare, which runs scores of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in nine countries—mainly in the Gulf and India. The Dubai-based Azad Moopen, the founding chairman and managing director of the company, believes the trust of patients, employees and governments is the key factor behind the group’s phenomenal success. To scale up its operations in India, Aster is planning to launch a large IPO later this year.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why should the cash-rich Aster go in for an IPO?

We are planning a massive expansion of our healthcare network in India. We have a dozen hospitals, a medical college and a nursing college in India, mainly in the South. We want to build as well as acquire more multi-speciality hospitals in the metros and major cities across the country. As of now, 80% of the group’s revenues come from outside India. We now want to focus on India. The entire proceeds from the IPO will be used to fund the new projects in India.

What is the quantum of the IPO?

At this stage, I can’t give out the specifics. But it will be a large issue reflecting at least one tenth of the market capitalisation of the company. The issue could be upwards of 200 million dollars. It will be listed on Bombay Stock Exchange. The foreign bankers to the issue will be Merryll Lynch and Goldman Sachs, apart from the Indian banks Kotak Mahindra and Axis.

You have a large healthcare network in the Gulf where the business environment is friendlier than in India. Why the focus on India?

We see huge opportunities in the healthcare sector in the next quarter century in India. As the country progresses economically and technologically, people want better, advanced treatments. The purchasing capacity is going up. Medical insurance coverage is expanding rapidly. The self-pay mode is fast changing. The government is stepping up healthcare coverage. All these are increasing affordability.

On the other hand, morbidity is increasing. Even small villages are in the grip of lifestyle diseases. Infectious diseases are making a big comeback even in States like Kerala. And, longevity is rising. The longer you live, your healthcare cost will be disproportionately higher. And, the population is expanding, too. So, in the next 25 years, there will be a sharp rise in the demand for medical care in the country.

How did the Aster brand evolve?

When I went to Dubai in 1987 after teaching medicine at Calicut Medical College for some years, I set up a one-doctor clinic called Dr. Moopen’s Clinic. I had a flourishing practice. Then I set up a string of clinics and a large number of pharmacies in the UAE and other Gulf countries. These had different names. In 2007, we decided on rebranding these companies under a single brand. I was keen on a neutral name with a universal appeal. `Aster’ sounded great. Thus was born Aster DM Healthcare (DM stands for Dr. Moopen’s). The brand established itself very quickly. The tagline `We will treat you well’ came later. People trust us, our promise and the brand.

You have a reputation of being a philanthropist…

I have set apart 20% of my assets and income annually for helping others. We have a family foundation that mainly channels the aid. We also did our bit in helping Syrian refugees in Jordan and in food shipments to Sudan.

How does it feel being a billionaire?

I hate to be labelled a billionaire. I am basically a doctor. I set up a large business through hard work. When I am gone, I would like to be remembered as someone `who tried his best to help others.’ My epitaph.. (laughs)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 2:08:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/huge-opportunities-in-healthcare-sector-in-next-25-years/article19332396.ece

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