ITC plans to set up multi-specialty hospitals

ITC plans to set up multi-specialty hospitals

ITC, the Kolkata-based cigarettes-to-hotels business conglomerate, has sought approval from its shareholders to foray into specialised healthcare by setting up multi-specialty hospitals and to promote health tourism.

With this venture, ITC will be in line for competition with leading private healthcare groups like Apollo Hospitals and Fortis.

ITC said in a notice to its shareholders and stock exchanges that the company’s board of directors have “recommended exploring and entering the area of health in India by way of setting up state-of-the-art world-class multi-specialty hospitals”.

The company filed with the BSE on Friday that the ITC Board explained that the “initiative would leverage the company’s” expertise in the hospitality and tourism sector to promote medical tourism for the country.

Informing that the plan was to set up world-class multi-specialty facilities, the ITC Board believed that “world-class medical facilities providing patient-centric best practices that would be valued and trusted by society will drive reform in healthcare in India”, keeping in the mind the “…context your company’s vision to sub-serve national priorities which has driven the company’s operations, diversification initiatives and CSR policies and practices…”, the note said.

Besides hospitals and medical tourism, ITC would also set up a plethora of related facilities, including “healthcare centres, mobile health centres, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, dispensaries, pharmacies, clinics, laboratories, polyclinics, drug and medical accessories stores, nutrition and dietetic counselling centres, medical colleges, nursing colleges, medical research centres, facilities for training, development and skilling of related manpower,” the note said.

Industry insiders pointed out that ITC’s plan to diversify into healthcare came at a situation when the company is faced with regulatory and taxation challenges in its cigarette business, which made up 63% of the company’s revenue over a nine-month period, ending December 31, 2016.

Analysts believe that even though the decision to foray into healthcare would require ITC for substantial capital investment, several studies and surveys have suggested the substantial scope in the field, along with medical tourism.

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