The family will remain in control of Apollo Hospitals: AHEL's Suneeta Reddy

Promoters of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise (AHEL) are looking for a strategic partner in the education business, which is independent of the listed entity, to bring down pledged shares. Promoters hold 34 per cent in AHEL, of which three-fourth is pledged. MD and promoter Suneeta Reddy speaks to Gireesh Babu about how the family plans to bring down the level of pledged shares. Edited excerpts:

What are the plans to release the promoters’ pledged shares in AHEL?

We will reduce it by almost 50 per cent with the stake sale in Apollo Munich Health Insurance (to HDFC). We intend to bring it down to 20 per cent — but that will take a year. We are considering several options, and looking at getting a strategic partner for the education vertical.

Would you also bring in an investor in PCR Investments (a promoter firm of AHEL)?

If we get a good strategic investor for PCR Investments, we will look at it. But it will not be a significant dilution of our stake. The family will always remain in control of Apollo Hospitals in the health care delivery space.

Suneeta Reddy
What type of strategic partnership are you looking at?

We have created a lot of digital content in the medical education space; we are looking to grow. Education is an important space. But, more than that, we are invested in core health care. It is important to focus on fundamentals; our primary objective is to remain invested in Apollo Hospitals.

Will a strategic partner invest only in 13 nursing and two medical colleges in the education vertical, or also in Medskill and Medvarsity Online?

We are looking at various options. It is a little premature to say where the investment will be. The primary aim is to bring down our pledge over the next year. The strategic partnership could also help us grow the digital vertical, but our primary aim is to reduce the pledged shares. 

The promoters’ pledged shares went up to 78 per cent earlier, but came down afterwards. How do you see the increase in pledged shares again?

We invested some money to fund solvency in the insurance business. Right now, AHEL is doing very well and I think what we are realising from Apollo Munich is also three times the return of what we have invested. 

I think we have always invested in creating health care assets; our focus remains health care delivery. We are not looking at asset sales in the listed entity.

How much do you plan to raise from the strategic partner?

It is a little bit premature right now to talk about that or to say whether we are talking to some investors.