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Business

Singapore health care company stakes claims for Australian launch

SINGAPORE -- International Healthway Corporation, a Singaporean health care company known as IHC, is laying the groundwork for expansion into Australia.

     IHC has acquired roughly 110 million Australian dollars ($102 million) worth of commercial property in the country. The hospital and nursing home developer and operator plans to launch a new Australian business over the next few years.

A rendering shows one of International Healthway's integrated hospital and commercial complexes, under development in Malaysia. The company is also targeting Australia.

     The Singaporean company recently purchased three buildings in the state of Victoria -- two in Melbourne and one in Geelong, a city about 70km from Melbourne. Both cities have high population densities and aging residents with mounting needs for health care.

     The buildings IHC acquired each have over 5,000 sq. meters of floor space. The company aims to attract patients in surrounding communities by offering a variety of clinical services. It also plans to partner with existing big hospitals and refer patients it cannot treat.

     IHC decided to foray into Australia in anticipation of a surge in demand as the nation grays. According to a United Nations estimate, 15% of the Australian population will be 65 or older by 2015. The figure is expected to top 20% by 2035.

Hybrid complexes

IHC was listed on the Singapore Exchange last summer and posted sales of 31.31 million Singapore dollars ($24.8 million) for the fiscal year through December. The company runs a hospital in China's Jiangsu Province, in addition to 12 nursing care facilities in Hokkaido, Nara and other prefectures in Japan.

     In China and Malaysia, IHC is developing new clinics and hospitals that will be combined with shopping centers and serviced residences. The company is currently building a 33-story complex in Kuala Lumpur that will have serviced apartments handled by U.S. hotel chain Marriott International, plus commercial facilities. The building is scheduled for completion in 2016.

     Health care providers have high hopes for expansion in various corners of Southeast Asia. Malaysia's IHH Healthcare, Asia's largest hospital operator, and Singapore's Raffles Medical Group are employing a business model that involves opening clinics inside larger facilities. The business of catering to medical tourists from abroad is booming, too.

     But industry players are also moving farther afield. IHH has already established hospitals and related medical services in several countries, including India, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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