Abraaj Capital to sell Turkish health insurer Acibadem

ISTANBUL, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Abraaj Capital, the Middle East’s largest private equity firm, plans to sell its 50 percent stake in Turkish health insurer Acibadem Sigorta, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Acibadem Sigorta is a 50:50 joint venture between a holding company owned by Dubai-based Abraaj and Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, founder of Turkey’s Acibadem health group, and ranks third in the sector with a market share of just over 10 percent.

Turkey’s economy, the fastest growing in Europe in 2011, expanded by less than 3 percent last year but its young and growing population of 75 million is regarded as under-insured, with total premium income rising 12 percent to 19.8 billion Turkish liras ($11 billion).

Health insurance premiums were up 11.9 percent at 2.24 billion liras last year, with Acbadem Sigorta’s premium income jumping 35.5 percent to 230.3 million liras, according to official data.

Three global insurers – Allianz, Dai-ichi Life , and Zurich – are already vying to buy Yapi Kredi Sigorta, a joint venture between Turkish group Koc Holding and Italian bank UniCredit, banking sources said this month.

“Strong demand is expected (for Acibadem Sigorta) as it is one of Turkey’s biggest health insurance firms,” one of the sources familiar with Abraaj’s plans told Reuters.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Investment has been commissioned to advise on the sale by both shareholders, two of the sources said.

Just over a year ago Abraaj, which manages around $7.5 billion in assets, sold its stake in Turkey’s largest hospital chain Acibadem Saglik to Integrated Healthcare Holdings, a unit of Malaysian state investment arm Khazanah Nasional, in a deal which valued Acibadem Saglik at $1.68 billion.

($1 = 1.7977 Turkish liras) (By Asli Kandemir; editing by Nick Tattersall and Greg Mahlich)