Few corporate battles have been as unpredictable and as dramatic as the one currently playing out for Fortis Healthcare, the hospital chain once owned by the Singh brothers Malvinder and Shivinder. Ever since it became clear that the company would be opened up for bidding and the Singhs were no longer in charge, it’s been a series of endless twists and turns, a story which is a continuous work in progress.
The cast of characters includes some of the biggest names in India and overseas—the Munjal-Burman combine, representing two of India’s best-known business families, Ranjan Pai of the Manipal Group with TPG Capital, IHH Healthcare of Malaysia, and the KKR-backed Radiant Life Care. Chinese giant Fosun has also been sniffing around. Much has happened at the time of going to press. After the erstwhile Fortis board declared the Munjal-Burman combine as the winners in an earlier round of bidding, the board itself was reconstituted after four members resigned or were voted out. It was then natural that the entire bidding process would have to start all over again. And that’s exactly what has happened. All bidders are now back to the starting line.
What is it about Fortis that makes it so attractive to so many? For one, Fortis is a well-known hospital chain—India’s second largest—with 31 hospitals in 15 cities and three overseas. Despite being in frail financial health, Fortis has the potential to add enough muscle to each of the bidders. Not surprisingly, the three which have been so far ahead in the race—the Munjal-Burman combine, Manipal-TPG, and IHH—have come up with various permutations and combinations which each of them feels is best suited to nursing the hospital chain back to health. Fortis’ average revenue per bed and gross margins make it very attractive to potential owners and ramping up bed count is also easy owing to the structure of its hospitals. In our cover story, Fortune India’s Delhi bureau chief Ashish Gupta and Bengaluru-based senior assistant editor Debojyoti Ghosh assiduously track the bidders’ every move and dive into the engrossing and nail-biting Fortis drama. One thing, they say, is obvious: The bidding war and its outcome are only the first big step in what is arguably a multi-layered story. Whoever wins Fortis eventually will then have the arduous task of getting it back on track and also finding the best possible solution for Fortis subsidiary SRL Diagnostics. Even after this issue hits the stands, the story will be playing out and we at Fortune India will be bringing you the developments both in the magazine and on our digital platform. But for now, it’s the story so far.
Moving away from Fortis, we discuss how two business families are in the midst of fine-tuning their strategies to stay ahead of competition. Arnika Thakur tells the story of Anil Rai Gupta, son of the legendary Qimat Rai Gupta, founder of Havells. The son is busy transforming the electricals company he inherited into a consumer durables challenger after the acquisition of Lloyd’s consumer durables business. Elsewhere, Debojyoti Ghosh tells of how the second generation of two friends-turned-business partners, Radhe Shyam Agarwal and Radhe Shyam Goenka of consumer goods major Emami, is seamlessly working to get into new areas like male grooming and professional salon products to take on startups and newer entrants. There’s lots to read in the next few pages. So read on.
The Fortune India June 2018 issue is on stands. Subscribe here