Healthscope gets new bids

A BIDDING war has broken out for Healthscope, the Australian hospital and pathology group, in a sign banks and private equity firms are ready to return to leveraged buyouts.

Healthscope told the Australian stock exchange it had received two separate bids at A$5.80 (£3.38) per share, valuing the company at A$1.8bn. One of the offers is thought to come from a team comprising KKR and CVC Capital Partners, advised by Morgan Stanley, while the other is believed to come from US giant Tenet Healthcare, advised by Citigroup.

The pitches trump an earlier bid of A$5.75 per share from a consortium thought to be made up of Blackstone, Texas Pacific Group and Carlyle Group.

Shares in Healthscope, which operates 43 hospitals in Australia, rose five per cent to A$5.49. The stock has climbed 22 per cent since the first takeover approach on 14 May.

The team of Blackstone, TPG and Carlyle has already been granted access to Healthscope’s books. The two new bidders will also be allowed access for due diligence.

The company stated: “The board does not intend to make any further announcements unless and until a recommended offer is secured... This process will take several weeks.”