Australian firm AMP pulls out of race to buy Mater Private

German healthcare giant Fresenius has also left race for hospital

Australian investment firm AMP Capital has joined German healthcare giant Fresenius in pulling out of the race to buy the Mater Private hospital group, which was put up for sale last year with a price tag of €500 million.

It is understood the hospital group’s majority owner, CapVest, a London-based venture capital company, is now in talks with two private equity firms and an infrastructure fund as it seeks to secure a deal. Some of these did not make it to the short list, drawn up last month, but had been involved at an earlier stage of the process.

While AMP has pulled out of the formal bidding process for the Mater Private, two sources said last night that it continuing to monitor developments.

Last month saw Irish-American private equity fund Carlyle Cardinal Ireland walk away from the sale.


Australian investment bank and fund manager Macquarie had also previously been linked to it.

The exit of Fresenius, which emerged over the weekend, is seen as taking a lot of competitive tension out of the bidding as it was the only healthcare industry player left on the pitch and was tipped by some sources as the most likely acquirer.

Fresenius, based in Bad Homburg, north of Frankfurt, is understood to have stepped back as the purchase would have marked a major strategic shift for the group. Its hospital operations unit, Fresenius Helios, operates only in the German market, where it is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient care, with 111 medical centres, including seven full-care hospitals.

The exit of Sydney-based AMP Capital marks the second large asset sale in Ireland from which it has walked away this year. The firm had been among earlier bidders for Northern power company Viridian Group from Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank. US investment firm I Squared Capital Advisors ended up winning that auction after tabling a bid understood to be worth about €1 billion.

It was envisaged that a preferred bidder for the Mater Private, which has annual sales of about €200 million and operating profits of more than €40 million, would be picked this month. However, sources could not say on Wednesday if this remains the case.

CapVest, led by Irishman Seamus Fitzpatrick, took control of the Mater Private in 2007 in a deal that valued the business at €350 million. In 2012 the hospital company bought Cork Medical Centre, a 75-bed facility. It also operates treatment centres in Limerick, Liverpool, Drogheda, Navan and Sligo.

Corporate financiers in Rothschild and Investec are advising CapVest on the sale of its stake of just over 50 per cent. The remainder is in the hands of management and staff.

Spokesmen for AMP, CapVest and the Mater Private declined to comment. Representatives from Fresenius did not respond to a request for comment.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times