By Yantoultra Ngui and Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Australia's largest private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care and Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby plan to revive the sale of their Asia-focused healthcare joint venture in a deal that could value the business at some 6 billion ringgit ($1.36 billion), two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The companies are in talks with financial advisors to explore a sale of Selangor, Malaysia-based Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care to strategic investors, three sources said.
Deliberations were ongoing and no decisions have yet been made on the sale, said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is private.
Ramsay declined to comment.
"Sime Darby Berhad continues to review strategic growth options for our healthcare segment," a company spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement. "Any decisions will be made with a view on creating value for the group."
Ramsay Sime Darby did not immediately respond to comment.
The possible revival of the sale comes as healthcare assets gain favour, with investors betting on the sector's ability to weather the current challenging economic environment.
The Australian and Malaysian companies' earlier discussions to sell the joint venture to Malaysia's IHH Healthcare fell through six months ago.
IHH, one of Asia's biggest private hospital operators, had submitted an indicative proposal in March 2022 to buy Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare.
Two of the sources said the Australian and Malaysian companies were also weighing an IPO for the joint venture on the Malaysia Stock Exchange.
Discussions for the joint venture's sale were called off in early September, weeks after a group led by private equity firm KKR & Co Inc withdrew a near $15 billion all-cash buyout offer for Australia-listed Ramsay Healthare.
Ramsay Sime Darby was established in 2013 via an equal joint venture of Ramsay and Sime Darby to expand their healthcare business in Southeast Asia.
Its portfolio consists of 1,567 licensed beds across seven hospitals in Malaysia and Indonesia, and a day surgery facility in Hong Kong, according to Sime Darby's 2021 annual report.
($1 = 4.3970 ringgit)
(Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney; Editing by Kane Wu and Bernadette Baum)