Private healthcare group Bupa is weighing a takeover bid for dentistry chain Oasis.
Oasis, currently owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, could be worth in the region of £500m, though reports of its value vary.
Bupa has held preliminary talks with Oasis Healthcare's management and shareholders about a deal, it was first reported by Sky News. Discussions are said to be at a very early stage.
It was also reported a number of unnamed private equity firms are considering making offers for the company.
In July, Bupa rubber-stamped its interim board changes from earlier in the year. The British healthcare provider announced that former finance chief Evelyn Bourke would take the reins as chief executive on a permanent basis, with interim finance chief Joy Linton also having her role confirmed.
The pair were appointed to interim positions in a board shake-up in March this year after a results announcement that unveiled stumbling growth.
In March 2016, against a backdrop of a two per cent dip in pre-tax profit for 2015, said chairman Alexander Leitch said: “Current growth plans do not match our expectations.” He went on add that this meant the time was right for then-chief exec Stuart Fletcher to stand down.
Oasis – which runs more than 300 dental practices across the country – is chaired by Lord Rose, the former boss of Marks & Spencer.
Bupa makes most of its profit from health insurance and operates more than 600 dental clinics, as well as care homes, hospitals and retirement villages.