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Ramsay seeks further overseas expansion
Ramsay seeks further overseas expansion

Australia's largest private hospitals operator, Ramsay Health Care, is looking forward to more expansion overseas, particularly in Asia.

The company also has lifted its full-year guidance, after a solid performance from all its operations across the world, and capacity expansions, generated a 13.9 per cent lift in first-half profit.

Ramsay operates hospitals in Australia, the United Kingdom, and France, and has joint-venture assets with Sime Darby Berhad in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Ramsay managing Christopher Rex said the company had now established a strong position overseas and was seeking further opportunities.

"We have got resources up in Asia within the joint-venture which are seeking out and canvassing a whole series of opportunities," Mr Rex said in a market briefing on Tuesday.

"The primary area of focus is really southeast Asia rather than west Asia or south Asia.

Vietnam and China were of particular interest.

The opportunities for health companies such as Ramsay in China were enormous, he said.

"It could be now, it could be in 10 years, it could be 100 years, but I think time spent effectively on R&D (research and development) in that market will pay dividends at some point in the future," Mr Rex said.

Ramsay on Tuesday reported a net profit of $157.8 million for the six months to December 31, 2013, up from $138.4 million a year earlier.

Profit after tax from continuing operations, and excluding non-core items, rose 15.8 per cent to $171.6 million, from $148.2 million.

Ramsay's Australian and Asian business achieved revenue growth of 10.2 per cent and earnings growth of 13.2 per cent.

Ramsay said that given its strong first-half result, strong industry fundamentals, and the company's successful growth strategy, it was upgrading its guidance for core net profit and core earnings per share in the full financial year to between 16 and 18 per cent, up from the previous guidance of 12 to 14 per cent.

In the first half, Ramsay added 33 international facilities to its portfolio.

The company acquired three hospitals in Malaysia in a joint-venture with Sime Darby Berhad in July 2013 and purchased 30 psychiatric facilities in France in December 2013.

Mr Rex said Ramsay had gained significant scale in France with the addition of the new hospitals.

In the United Kingdom, Ramsay would assess any opportunities that may arise from forced divestments by other operators there, following a provisional report released by the Competition Commission in the UK recently.

"We like the UK market and have been open about our interest in becoming a larger player in this region," Mr Rex said.

Shares in Ramsay gained $2.98, or 6.7 per cent, to $47.54.