Cigarettes-to-hospitality conglomerate ITC is exploring the possibility of entering the healthcare sector in the country. To this end, the company has notified the BSE about a postal ballot it sent to its shareholders to vote on the proposal.
The notification said, “to consider and, if thought fit, to pass the following resolution as a Special Resolution:
To establish, purchase, take on lease or otherwise acquire, promote, set up, manage, maintain, operate, administer or assist in managing, maintaining or promoting multi speciality hospitals, medical and health care 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 & skilling of related manpower, and to engage in and support medical tourism and all other related medical, surgical, curative and health services and allied activities.”
The company said it was exploring the possibility of setting up multi-speciality hospitals, mobile medical vans, training centres, nursing homes, counselling centres, medical colleges, medical tourism, and more.
ITC said that its plans of making way into the medical and healthcare sector was “in the context of the company’s vision to sub-serve national priorities which has driving its operations, diversification initiatives and CSR policies and practices.”
It said that bearing that in mind, “the Board of Directors of the company had recommended exploring and entering the area of healthcare in India, inter alia, by way of setting up state of the art world class multi speciality hospitals.”
If the shareholders vote for the motion, ITC will go up against established players like Apollo Hospitals and Fortis Healthcare. The capital intensive sector, however, will need to see significant investment by ITC to make its play into the sector and to find a place for themselves. However, given that the the medical facilities-to-population ratio or doctor-to-patient ratio and even the hospital beds-to-patients ratio in the country is quite high, there’s more than enough space for ITC to make its mark.
On Friday, ITC’s shares closed down Rs 273.05 apiece, down Rs 4.35 or 1.57% from previous close.