Virtus to start wooing overseas investors

Virtus Health will begin its management roadshow on Monday in an effort to attract more than $500 million for an initial public offering next month.

Virtus Health will begin its management roadshow on Monday in an effort to attract more than $500 million for an initial public offering next month.

The IPO will be put to investors in Australia, Britain and parts of Asia and would become the largest Australian equity offering since SCA Property, a Woolworths subsidiary, raised $472 million in November last year.

In documents obtained by BusinessDay, Virtus advisers Morgan Stanley and UBS have valued the company at up to $682 million and $484 million respectively.

Virtus Health, which specialises in IVF science, is 43 per cent-owned by Australian private equity firm Quadrant and medical professionals around the country.

It is understood that the stake held by medical practitioners will be sold down to about 23 per cent, with their shares held in escrow until their retirement.

Quadrant will also dilute its holdings, but sources said the firm had not yet decided by how much.

Virtus operates 34 fertility clinics, 16 embryology labs, 17 andrology labs, six diagnostic labs and six hospitals across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

According to notes sent by UBS to institutional investors, Virtus holds about 35 per cent of Australia's $520 million assisted reproductive services market.

Australian-listed healthcare companies have enjoyed strong returns in recent times, with the ASX200 health sector jumping 45.6 per cent in 2012 and 10.1 per cent so far in 2013. Although the gains have been relatively solid, UBS pointed out the invariable risks that come with investing in health. "The healthcare sector is highly regulated ... [and] any change in government policies, both operational regulations and funding arrangements could materially affect Virtus' operations and expansion strategy," the report said.

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