The surprise announcement of the acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Hygeia private medical center by Marfin Capital, a subsidiary of Marfin Financial Group, opens the way to new strategic alliances in the health sector. Marfin Financial announced yesterday it had bought 49 percent of Hygeia medical facility for 2.56 euros a share. As a result, Hygeia’s stock surged 20 percent, the upper volatility limit on the Athens Stock Exchange. [It had also surged on Monday, bucking the negative market trend to rise 19.62 percent in unusually heavy trading. Thus, Hygeia’s share price went from 2.09 to 3 euros in just two sessions. Marfin Financial Group yesterday closed at 21.36 euros, up 1.81 percent.] With Hygeia having a capitalization of 107 million euros, Marfin paid about 53 million for its stake, acquiring it from Hygeia’s former major shareholder, Ioanna Arvaniti. Arvaniti retains a 23.8 percent share in Hygeia. Marfin said the buyout was not financed by cash raised in a recent rights issue, which will be used to expand the group’s activities in banking. Its management estimates that the acquisition to positively impact its 2006 earnings by 8 to 20 cents per share. According to the terms of the agreement, Marfin Capital will undertake Hygeia’s management and, as it said in its statement, it intends «to float more of the clinic’s shares to its medical staff… and expand its activities via strategic moves in the framework of the necessary consolidation in the health sector.» «Our aim is to restructure Hygeia’s management. We are also open to acquisitions and partnerships with non-listed clinics. After all, the sector is too fragmented and the trend that will prevail in the future is toward a consolidation,» Marfin Financial Group’s vice-chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos told Kathimerini. Argyris Koukas, Hygeia’s communications director, said Arvaniti’s decision to sell most of her stake was a «personal decision» showing trust in Marfin’s management abilities.