The healthcare sector is on the rise across the Gulf, where economic diversification away from dependence on oil continues apace.
This is especially true in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recorded the highest healthcare spending growth rate in the GCC in 2023, with spending projected to reach US$307 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 7.4%, according to a report by Alpen Capital.
Leading the charge is Pure Health, the UAE’s largest healthcare provider – a company that is not only making waves regionally but also globally, as it continues to ramp up ambitious expansion plans.
With a network of more than 25 hospitals, 160 laboratories, 100 clinics and more than 24,000 employees, Abu Dhabi-based Pure has now announced plans to acquire the UK’s largest private healthcare company, Circle Health, from Centene Corporation.
In a deal valued at US$1.2 billion, the acquisition will see the UAE healthcare giant enter the UK market for the first time.
“Through integrating the expertise of both organisations, we positively impact the lives of patients globally,” says Farhan Malik, Group CEO of Pure Health.
The two decade-old Circle Health boasts more than 8,200 employees and 6,500 consultants, working in more than 60 specialities, in more than 50 hospitals across the UK.
With more than two million visits per annum, Circle Group drove more than Dh4.7bn (US$2.01 billion) in revenue, according to an official statement.
Global expansion via acquisition key for PureHealth
Pure’s UK acquisition comes hot on the heels of the group's first foray into the US market last year – and is part of its global expansion programme.
In September 2022, the healthcare group took a minority equity investment of US$500 million in US-based Ardent Health Services, the fourth largest privately held acute care hospital operator in the US, with 30 hospitals, 200-plus sites of care and around 26,000 employees.
Describing the US investment as a “quantum leap” for the UAE and the global healthcare industry, Malik said the company would “continue to build relationships with leading US and other healthcare providers”.
Expanding its operations globally has been on the cards for Pure since its creation in early 2022 – as a consolidation of five healthcare companies.
Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company ADQ merged two of its portfolio companies – Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and The National Health Insurance Company PJSC (Daman) – with Tamouh Healthcare, Yas Clinic Group and Abu Dhabi Cell Centre to form a “unique ecosystem, with a focus on combining technology with healthcare” and create a “scalable platform for international growth”.
Pure Health is dedicated to championing and uplifting the national healthcare agenda in the UAE, paving the way for people in the emirates to live longer, healthier, happier, and fuller lives through the science of longevity.
It’s a mission that has led the firm to garnering numerous awards, including Healthcare Company of the Year at the Gulf Business Awards in 2022, while cofounder and Group COO Shaista Asif landed the Forbes’ healthcare leader of the year in 2023.
Shaista, who has 16 years of experience in the healthcare sector, co-founded Pure Health Group in 2006 becoming COO in 2010.
As well as being the UAE’s largest integrated healthcare company, it is the first in the Middle East, Africa and Asia to commit to net zero emissions by 2040 – a decade before the global deadline to decarbonise.
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