ICICI Venture, India's largest home-grown private equity firm, is close to finalising a deal to sell its 67% stake in Kolkata-based unlisted healthcare firm Medica Synergie to Singapore-based Quadria Capital for Rs 160 crore.

The Mumbai-based private equity fund had invested about Rs 90 crore to acquire two-thirds in Medica in 2007-2008.

Private equity funds poured money into India's growing primary healthcare sector last year, fuelled by rising propensity among patients to visit modern hospital chains. Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Sequoia Capital and the Government of Singapore Investment are among the funds to hold stakes in healthcare companies.

"The proposed deal underscores the fact that foreign investors are keen on investing in the growing healthcare sector. India has only a handful of hospital chains though our doctor to population ratio is even lower than a country like Pakistan. Since foreign investors are willing to wait for a decade, they get multiple returns," said Hitesh Mahida, pharma analyst at Fortune Equity Brokers.

An ICICI Venture spokesperson declined to comment. Quadria Capital did not respond to email questions. The deal will help Quadria Capital, promoted by Abrar Mir, Amit Varma and William Costello, to consolidate and grow hospital assets in a growing market like India. The fund has already invested in Andhra Pradesh-based super speciality chain Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences and Cancer Care Hospital HealthCare Global Enterprises.

"India's eastern and southern states offer tremendous potential for growth," said Mahida. Medica Synergie manages hospitals with a combined capacity of 1,000 beds through its own chain and franchisees besides a chain of pharmacy shops in Kolkata.

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