Thierry Chiche: We are the largest truly national private hospital group in France – we have more than 120 hospitals that treat around 2 million patients a year. But Elsan is not like any other company. Our business is to take care of people and provide essential services, which means it is essential that our shareholders have the same values that we do. We also need investors that can match our appetite for growth. It was clear that Ardian could give us the direct support we wanted but we also appreciated the maturity and experience of Ardian’s teams in a club deal like this one. They will play an important role in the governance of the company.
patients a year
Alexandre Motte: The opportunity to invest in Elsan alongside KKR, that we know well, was extremely attractive. As a healthcare company it is naturally very stable, but it is also growing because demand for healthcare is increasing and the population is aging.
Elsan is one of the largest private companies in France, so there is a natural fit with us, as one of the country’s largest investors.
This is our most significant European investment, and we were welcome to play an important role because all stakeholders recognized it was crucial to have a substantial French shareholder group in Elsan, given that hospitals are an essential and regulated sector.
The support we have had from our previous sponsors and now from Ardian through the Covid crisis has been amazing. We prepared for the first wave in three days and tripled our capacity, which allowed our hospitals to treat 4,000 patients with Covid during 2020.
TC: Our medics went wherever in the country they were needed – in our facilities and in public hospitals. There was huge solidarity right across the system. By the time the second wave started, we were well prepared. We treated twice as many Covid patients in the second wave and still performed almost all our normal activities as well.
AM: We supported our companies in responding to the crisis, but we also maintained our investment tempo where we saw compelling opportunities. Covid has reinforced the importance of having strong hospitals, public and private. That created a more favorable regulatory environment, and better cooperation between the public and private sectors. Elsan is well-placed to grow – it has a great management team with the skills to improve efficiency, for example by leveraging digitalization to deliver better services to more patients.
TC: We plan to grow through further acquisitions of hospitals and by obtaining authorizations from the regulator to open new services in different cities. Then, the third route is to add new activities within our hospitals, for example radiology. One of our major areas for growth is home hospitalization, which brings the hospital to the patient’s home. This grew organically by 20% in 2020.
AM: This was a large investment for us at €150 million, against a fund size of €2.1 billion, but we had the possibility to invest more. It shows we have the potential to increase the size of our fund in the next generation so we can play an even bigger role in attractive companies like Elsan.