PureHealth buys UK hospital operator Circle in $1.2bn deal

PureHealth, the largest healthcare provider in the United Arab Emirates, has reached an agreement to buy Circle Health Group from US company Centene for $1.2bn.

PureHealth is owned and controlled by a consortium which includes the Abu Dhabi state holding ADQ, as well as Alpha Dhabi, an listed company within the International Holding Company. They are controlled Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed al-Nahyan who is the UAE’s most powerful national security advisor. He also chairs Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the main sovereign wealth fund of the emirate.

Circle is the UK’s largest private hospital network, with over 50 locations and 8,200 employees. Its revenues are approximately $1.3bn.

Hamad al Ameri is the chief executive officer of Alpha Dhabi. He said: “We’re confident that [the acquisition] positions us for continued success and growth.”

The Circle deal is Abu Dhabi’s latest global acquisition as it seeks out fast-growing industries that can diversify the oil-dependent economy.

PureHealth invested $500mn in Ardent Health Services earlier this year. Ardent Health Services is the fourth largest private healthcare group in America, and operates in six states.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the sovereign investment group Mubadala are among the Abu Dhabi entities that have become more active since the economy recovered from the pandemic. Global dealmakers have been flocking to the city’s power brokers, as other global sources of capital are drying up.

The IHC group of listed investment vehicles, controlled by Sheikh Tahnoon as well as government-owned ADQ Holding Company, have emerged as key players in the UAE’s overseas investment push.

IHC’s meteoric rise has also confused Gulf market watchers who are concerned about transparency and blurring the lines between private and state sector interests. IHC’s profit increased 181% in 2022.

PureHealth is a healthcare network that includes more than 25 hospitals as well as labs and clinics. ADQ merged the state health operator Seha with insurance provider Daman to form PureHealth last year.

Circle was founded in 2004 and grew by acquiring the larger BMI Health Care in 2019. Circle withdrew from a landmark contract to manage a NHS hospital in 2015. This was only three years into the ten-year deal, and it was due to performance-related criticism.

Circle, the UK’s only purpose-built rehabilitation facility and other assets will be taken over by the UAE group.

Farhan Malik is the chief executive officer of PureHealth. He said, “PureHealth as the largest healthcare group in the region, will make significant contributions towards the improvement of healthcare services and the access to world class medical services, both within the UAE and outside the UAE.”