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Dubai investor close to $600m deal with Saudi's largest dental clinics

November 21, 2021
healthcare

RIYADH: A Dubai-based investment company is nearing a $600 million deal to buy a majority stake in Saudi Arabia’s largest provider of dental and dermatology care, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) is set to purchase the 70 percent stake owned by private equity firm Jadwa Investment Co. in Almeswak Dental Clinics, the people said, asking not to be identified for information privacy.

Emirati health-care company United Eastern Medical Services owns the rest of the shares.

Almeswak operates about 85 centers across 25 cities in Saudi Arabia. Its purchase confirms the growing appeal of health-care assets in the Gulf region.

Investor interest in medical care has also been rising as the world population ages, and as the industry has emerged as something of a safe haven for deal-makers during the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg said.

Almeswak shareholders hired investment bank EFG-Hermes Holding Co. to explore options including a sale or IPO, people familiar told Bloomberg in February.

GII said earlier in 2021, it is looking to expand in India and Saudi Arabia, where it intends to invest about $1 billion over the next 18 months in sectors ranging from health-care to cloud kitchens.

GII is a privately held Shariah-compliant company that oversees more than $2 billion in assets. More than half of its shareholders are Saudi.

The dentistry sector has been targeted by the Saudi government as an area for increased ‘Saudization’ of the workforce.

Last month it was announced dentists and pharmacists in Saudi Arabia will get a minimum wage of SR7,000 from April 11, 2022 and will be applied to all private sector establishments operating in the Kingdom.

Both professions have witnessed a 30 percent localization rate following the Saudization program, with over 3,900 Saudis working in dentistry and over 8,150 Saudis in pharmacy.

This move is part of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development's goal to provide stimulating, productive and stable job opportunities for citizens of both genders, and to raise their participation in the labor market.

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