Belfast Telegraph

Spire shares rocket on takeover approach

The group said in a stock market announcement that the cash and shares deal tabled by Mediclinic “significantly undervalues Spire and its prospects”.

Shares in Spire Healthcare, one of Britain’s biggest private hospitals operators, rocketed after the firm confirmed that it received and rejected a takeover approach from South Africa’s Mediclinic.

The group said in a stock market announcement that the cash and shares deal tabled by Mediclinic “significantly undervalues Spire and its prospects”.

Mediclinic’s offer, at 298.6 pence per share, values Spire at over £1 billion. Spire shares closed at 261.3p on Friday.

Shares in Spire rose over 12% to 293.7p in morning trading.

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Spire advised investors to take “no action in relation to the proposal”.

For its part, Mediclinic, which is Spire’s largest shareholder with a near 30% holding, said it is “considering its position” following the rejection.

Graham Doyle, analyst at Liberum, said: “This is surprising on two fronts.

“Firstly there is still a great deal of uncertainty around the outlook for Spire’s NHS business (30% of revenue) in particular which means that even with the pullback since July, it is not necessarily an attractive time to bid for the group.

“Secondly, Mediclinic’s share price is close to its 52-week low, down some 30% over the past year, making equity expensive.”

Spire has hit the headlines recently after one of its surgeons was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent, and three further wounding charges.

Ian Paterson exaggerated or invented cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures.

The group was forced to shell out £27.6 million to help compensate victims earlier this year, which led to pre-tax profits for the six months to June 30 tumbling to £8.9 million from £35.7 million.

Spire also appointed Justin Ash as new chief executive in September after executive chairman Garry Watts relinquished control of the FTSE 250 firm in June due to ill health.

Spire runs 39 hospitals across England, Wales and Scotland.

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