By Tom Arnold
DUBAI, Dec 19 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates-based hospital operator NMC Healthcare NMC.L has $800 million available to start investing in 2018 in the Gulf and other markets, its chief executive told Reuters in an interview.
The London-listed firm, which is among the beneficiaries from recent growth in the Gulf's healthcare sector, plans to acquire hospitals and other facilities, as well as smaller investments in In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) facilities in Europe, said Prasanth Manghat.
"We have an $800 million war chest available to us and see a lot of assets in the market that make sense for us," said Manghat. "If you look at healthcare, there's a shortage of quality of assets and from a usage point of view there's a lot of assets."
The company's main business has historically been within the UAE, where it has both built and acquired hospitals, including the acquisition in February of Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah for $560 million.
He said he sees opportunities in 2018 from increased government spending in Abu Dhabi, mandatory health insurance reforms in Dubai and Oman and the privatisation of the healthcare market in Saudi Arabia.
The $800 million includes $500 million from cash and funded facilities and $300 million from the company's balance sheet, he said. It might also consider issuing a bond to help fund any acquisitions, he said. (Editing by Louise Heavens) Keywords: NMC HEALTH M&A/