INDIA – New investor TPG Growth and existing investor Temasek have invested Rs 1050 crore (approximately US$136 million) in Dr. Agarwal’s Health Care Ltd in the largest private equity deal in India’s eye healthcare space.

According to Dr. Agarwal’s statement, the transaction includes a primary infusion of funds as well as a secondary transaction involving the exit of its existing investor ADV Partners.

In 2016, ADV Partners invested approximately US$45 million in Dr. Agarwal’s to primarily pave the way for the exit of Evolvence India Life Sciences Fund, as per news website VCCircle.

The investment round, which is India’s largest fundraise in the eyecare space will provide significant capital to fuel the company’s expansion programs.

According to Amar Agarwal, Chairman of Dr. Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals, the new capital will be used to expand in domestic and international markets and to deploy cutting-edge technologies for super-specialty eyecare.

The company, which began in 1957 with a single facility in Chennai, now has 105 hospitals spread across India and Africa. It hopes to expand its network to over 200 hospitals in the next three to four years with the new funds.

Dr. Agarwal’s expansion into new markets

Dr. Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals CEO Adil Agarwal stated that the company will also consider acquisitions in key markets such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

In the international market, where it already has 15 centers in Africa, the company plans to expand its presence in Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana, he added.

Ankur Thadani, MD of TPG Growth, noted that the healthcare sector in India is a core focus for TPG.

TPG Growth previously invested directly in Indian medical device maker Healthium MedTech (formerly Sutures India), which it sold to Apax Partners in 2018.

TPG owns a stake in the hospital chain Manipal Hospitals. TPG Growth established a separate healthcare platform, Asia Healthcare Holdings (AHH), in 2017 to invest in single-specialty hospitals.

AHH signed a definitive agreement earlier this year for a US$170 million investment from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC. TPG Growth made its first digital healthcare investment in PharmEasy in 2020.

The company’s financial advisors for this transaction were Veda Corporate Advisors and Avendus Capital.

Dr. Agarwal had previously raised Rs 270 crore (US$38 million) from Temasek in February 2019. Later that year, the company borrowed another Rs 215 crore (US$30.3 million) from the British development finance institution (DFI) CDC Group Plc.

This was not the first time Dr. Agarwal had turned to a different source of funding. The eye-care chain raised structured debt from Edelweiss Special Opportunities Fund in 2017 to fund expansion.

Based on the increasing burden of eye diseases and moderate growth in technological advancements, the eye care market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.3 percent, reaching US$2 billion by 2022.

Temasek’s investment in Dr. Agarwal’s in 2019 broke a long lull in private equity investment in the eye care space. Aside from Dr. Agarwal’s, a number of other eye care chains received investment from new investors that year.

Mahindra Partners, the private equity arm of the diversified Mahindra Group, for example, invested Rs 206.5 crore (approximately US$30 million) in the New Delhi-based chain Centre for Sight.

This transaction paved the way for venture capital firm Matrix Partners India to exit completely.

Foundation Holdings, a family investment firm based in the United Arab Emirates, provided funding to ASG Hospital.

Shridhar Thakur, former chief operating officer of eye-care chain Vasan Healthcare, and Anil Kamath, former managing director of Wockhardt Hospitals, have acquired a majority stake in Infigo Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd.

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