Saudi IPO nets US$2.3 bil for one of world’s richest doctors

RIYADH: A Saudi paediatrician has become one of the world’s wealthiest doctors after the medical-services group he founded priced its initial public offering at the top of a marketed range.

Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al-Habib’s 49% stake in his eponymous company is worth US$2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, based on the announced selling price of 50 riyals a share.

He plans to sell 17.4 million shares in the IPO, according to the prospectus. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group is one of the biggest providers of health care in Saudi Arabia, operating hospitals, outpatient clinics, pharmacies and medical labs throughout the kingdom as well as in Dubai and Bahrain.

The group employs more than 2,000 physicians. The IPO is the first in Saudi Arabia since state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco raised almost US$30 billion in December.

The firm is seeking to capitalise on the government’s plans to ramp up private-sector participation in health care and the country’s demographic trends. Saudi Arabia’s population is disproportionately young and relatively unhealthy.

More than a third of adults are obese and 18.5% suffer from diabetes, according to World Health Organisation statistics.

Al-Habib, 68, established the business in 1993 after serving as chief medical officer and head of paediatrics at two government-owned hospitals in Riyadh.

A graduate of King Saud University, he did his paediatrics fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians in the UK. He also invests in commercial real estate through a holding company, according to the prospectus.

Very few doctors rank among the world’s richest people.

HCA Healthcare Inc co-founder and former US Air Force flight surgeon Thomas Frist is the wealthiest with a net worth of US$13.1 billion, according the Bloomberg index. Biotech entrepreneur and physician Patrick Soon-Shiong has a US$9.2 billion fortune.