Community Hospitals up for grabs

Swedish healthcare firm Capio is in “advanced talks that may lead to a bid”.

Capio, a Swedish private healthcare firm, says it may buy Community Hospitals, a publicly-quoted hospitals group worth £230m. An offer could spark a counter bid from Cinven-owned General Healthcare.

Gothenburg-based Capio said it was in negotiations with Community Hospitals. “Advanced talks are ongoing that may lead to Capio making a friendly bid for Community Hospitals,” it said in a statement.

General Healthcare has already expressed a keen interest in publicly-quoted Community Hospitals. In March, a proposed takeover by the UK’s biggest healthcare group was referred to the competition authorities and is still being considered.

However, a spokeswoman said General Healthcare could make a formal bid if it was so minded. She would not say what the company would do in the event of a Capio bid, which could come before the end of the week.

A Capio bid would not be the first offer for Community Hospitals. Last year, UK private healthcare company Bupa, which owns 26.7 per cent of Community Hospitals, had a £230m takeover bid rejected by competition authorities because of concerns that the deal would push up the price of care.

Cinven bought General Healthcare from Vivendi in a £1.1bn deal in 1997. General Healthcare owns six per cent of Community Hospitals. The spokeswoman said it was offered the shares by an institutional investor after the Bupa bid fell through.