ECONOMY

Hygeia on a healthy track

When a team of aspiring young medical practitioners met in 1970 to look at the establishment of a new, model and privately owned hospital, none of the participants could foresee that some 38 years later their own creation would be playing such an important role in private healthcare in Greece, and that it would further claim a top position as a medical institution in the wider region of Southeastern Europe. The Hygeia Hospital, still among the country’s largest hospitals, is these days mapping out its investment plan, not only for 2008 but also for some years to come. Powered by a liquidity of -300 million, coming from a convertible bond loan, Hygeia will be trying to infiltrate the sub-segment of diagnostic centers and the highly profitable area of one-day care, as well as buying out private therapeutic centers to boost its share in the domestic private health market. Hygeia is additionally planning its real growth within Greek borders, as well as in Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The entire investment program – which will utilize large funds – is being prepared by an expert team and is expected to be completed in three weeks. According to the firms IPO, -245 million will be poured into takeover activity and into establishing medical facilities in Greece and abroad. The starting point for Hygeia would be primary healthcare, with the opening of major diagnostic centers. The objective is to create a chain of diagnostic centers which would provide the entire range of primary healthcare and single-day clinic services. The latter also includes cosmetic surgery, a highly profitable business. The group’s plans include development in the area of home healthcare, expecting a drop in operating costs as a result of reduced post-surgery treatment. The country’s two major urban centers in Athens and Thessaloniki are the main geographical target for acquisitions. Officials are even considering building a new hospital in Thessaloniki. Another area of interest to Hygeia is entering public healthcare, targeting taking over the management of state hospitals or state health bodies. However, officials are waiting for final decisions on this issue by the Health Ministry. Outside Greece, Hygeia’s activities in Albania are currently at the stage of the construction of the country’s first privately owned medical facility, Hygeia Hospital-Tirana ShA. Also in Cyprus, the firm has acquired a 56.7-percent stake in a local major hospital. Other Hygeia target nations include Romania, Turkey and Middle Eastern and Gulf states.