BGH expects slower growth

Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, the country's largest hospital operator, projects revenue growth of 10-15% this year to 22 billion baht.

Revenue growth is projected to fall below the company's initial target of 20% due to fewer international patients as a result of the slowing global economy, said Chatree Duangnet, a BGH director and chief executive of Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre.

But revenue growth this year would outstrip industry growth of 10%, he told investors at the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday.

BGH reported 2007 net profits of 1.244 billion baht on revenues of 18.88 billion, down from profits of 1.32 billion on revenues of 15.98 billion the previous year.

Dr Chatree said the company would maintain its investment plans of two billion baht for 2008, with half going to new medical equipment and the rest for international business ventures.

A 30-bed hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia was expected to open in September, followed by a 30-bed unit in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter.

A 1.2-billion-baht, 100-bed facility is also under construction in Phnom Penh, as is a 750-million-baht, 50-bed project in Hua Hin. Both are to be completed within 2010.

Dr Chatree said BGH had no plans to acquire any new hospitals, and would maintain its 38.25% stake in Ramkhamhaeng Hospital and 16% in Phayathai Hospital.

A tender offer for Ramkhamhaeng Hospital last month was closed with BGH increasing its stake by just 12%. Independent financial advisers said the tender offer was underpriced relative to Ramkhamhaeng's value.

Dr Chatree said BGH projected net profit margins would increase to 8-9% this year from 6% to 7% in 2007, thanks to funding costs falling by 1-1.5% with the issue of new bonds.

The company plans to refinance 8.5 billion baht worth of debt through the issue of new three- and five-year bonds as well as a long-term loan.

The three billion baht in three-year debentures have a coupon of 4.11%, with another two billion raised from five-year debentures with a coupon of 4.84%. BGH also raised 3.5 billion baht from a 10-year unsecured loan priced at fixed deposit rates plus two percentage points.

Shares of BGH closed yesterday on the SET at 31.5 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 18.4 million baht. Bangkok Post.