Swire sees promising prospects for China's healthcare sector

March 20, 2021 10:19
The Shenzhen New Frontier United Family Hospital will be operational in the second half of 2021. Photo: Swire Pacific

Swire Pacific Limited announced that it has made an investment in Shenzhen New Frontier United Family Hospital, marking the Group’s second investment in the rapidly growing sector.

New Frontier Health owns and operates United Family Healthcare (“UFH”), a premium private healthcare provider with a network of hospitals and clinics in the Chinese mainland including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao and Bo’ao. Shenzhen New Frontier United Family Hospital will be the latest addition to the UFH network of hospitals in the Chinese mainland.

Located in the heart of Futian district, and adjacent to the Shawei metro station, the new hospital will also be the largest in the UFH’s network with a total gross floor area of approximately 64,000 sqm with 350 inpatient beds, and will be equipped with the latest medical technology. As a comprehensive multi-specialty hospital, its key specialties will include obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, oncology and orthopedics. It is expected to be operational in the second half of 2021.

Swire Pacific’s investment in Shenzhen New Frontier United Family Hospital was made as part of the Company’s strategy to identify new and diversified investment opportunities that will increase the company’s exposure in businesses that benefit from the robust growth in consumer spending on the Chinese mainland.

The investment will also strengthen the Group’s business portfolio in the Greater Bay Area, the burgeoning economic powerhouse in the Chinese mainland. This latest investment came on the heels of an associate investment made by the Company in April 2020 in Columbia China Healthcare Co., Limited, a Shanghai-based healthcare service provider that operates private hospitals, clinics and senior care facilities.

Guy Bradley, Chief Executive of Swire Properties, who also chairs Swire Pacific's Healthcare Advisory Board, said, “Our investments in the healthcare sector bear many of the hallmarks of the Group’s long-standing investment strategy, and are a good fit with our capabilities. Healthcare is a sector where quality, commitment to service and reputation are all very important. All of these play to our core strengths. It usually takes from 5 to 8 years to ramp up a hospital – this aligns well with our long-term perspective in business. We are also very comfortable with highly regulated industries, as we operate in several already. Finally, healthcare is an asset-based business that involves acquiring sites and building them out. Our experience in property development and management is particularly helpful.”

The Chinese mainland’s healthcare consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated on the back of rising income and living standards, creating an opportunity for high-quality, international- standard healthcare services operators. Guy Bradley elaborates, “The combination of a rapidly growing middle class and an ageing population creates the perfect condition for increasing demand for private quality healthcare services in the Chinese mainland.”

“Healthcare is a new sector for us, therefore finding a right partner with a strong brand and operational experience is very important. We are happy to be partnering with New Frontier (United Family Healthcare) in developing the new Shenzhen hospital. They are extremely experienced in the private healthcare sector in the Chinese mainland and will provide us with strong operational support,” Mr Bradley continues.

With this new investment, Swire now has exposure in the healthcare sector in both the Yangtze River Delta and the Greater Bay Area. The Company will continue to look for similar investment opportunities in major city clusters in the Chinese mainland where Swire might have a property asset. “While at present we are taking minority positions in the investments in the healthcare industry, in time, we believe it has the potential to become a separate division and a meaningful business for us. We are excited about the growth prospects of the business and the opportunities that lie ahead,” Mr Bradley says.

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