Macquarie to buy Denis O’Brien controlled Beacon Hospital

The asset management wing of Australian financial services giant Macquarie Group has agreed a deal to buy the Beacon Hospital in Dublin which is controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Financial details have not been disclosed but it is understood that the deal is worth between €400m and €500m.

The hospital is being bought through Macquarie Asset Management’s €8bn European Infrastructure Fund 7, its largest ever European infrastructure fund, backed by pension providers and insurance companies.

Located in Sandyford, Co Dublin, the Beacon has 181 inpatient beds, 70 day-case beds, eight operating theatres, three Cath labs and four endoscopy suites.

The hospital has grown significantly following investment over the past ten years since Denis O’Brien bought a controlling stake, with the number of patients trebling and staff doubling.

It currently employs over 1,600 healthcare professionals and over 300 consultants and treated more than 207,000 patients last year.

Most recent accounts filed for Beacon Medical Group Sandyford Limited show the hospital saw its profit before tax fall to just over €1m in 2022, from €4.35m a year earlier.

This was despite turnover climbing from €188.5m in 2021 to almost €202m the year after.

The directors blamed “cost inflation across the healthcare sector” for the performance.

Prior to Denis O’Brien taking a controlling stake in 2014, the Beacon Hospital had previously been owned and operated by University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC).

UPMC said at the time it had tried over a period of 15 months to restructure its outstanding bank debt of around €100m owed to Ulster Bank, but in the end the bank decided to sell the debt to Denis O’Brien who opted to own, control and manage the hospital.

Today the Beacon Hospital is led by CEO Michael Cullen and its board is chaired by former AIB managing director, Colm Doherty.

Mr Cullen is to remain on as CEO and as a minority shareholder in the business, while it is understood that another shareholder, Professor Mark Redmond, is also retaining a stake.

“Looking to the future, we believe that Macquarie Asset Management’s support as our long-term shareholder, with its global expertise in healthcare and social infrastructure, will be critical as we embark on the next phase of our growth plans,” Mr Cullen said.

“Our new partner will work closely with us as we look to build the largest private healthcare campus in Ireland to meet current and future demand.”

Last year An Bord Pleanála gave the green light to a €75m eight-storey expansion of the hospital which would deliver 70 new beds as well as other facilities and would involve the substantive demolition of the adjoining hotel which the hospital bought in 2020.

Macquarie has previously made a series of investments in specialist care facilities in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the US.

It is understood it made an unsolicited approach to the Beacon last year.

The global investment group has been operating in Ireland since 2003 and currently employs more than 115 people in its Dublin office.

It has invested or committed over €2bn in Irish infrastructure since 2009.

Among its other investments here are waste and recycling group, Beauparc Utilities, which it acquired in 2021 from founder Eamon Waters and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities Fund.

Through its offshore wind development platform, Corio Generation, Macquarie Asset Management is developing the 450 MW Sceirde Rocks project off the coast of Galway.

It is also active in the aircraft leasing space here, through Macquarie AirFinance, which has been based in Dublin since 2006 and has a fleet of over 250 aircraft.

The company has also been heavily involved in the delivery of public private partnerships (PPP) here in education, housing and transport, including the Grangegorman Campus

Macquarie Capital and its partners were also involved in the first social housing bundle PPP in 2019 which delivered 538 new homes across Ireland.

Its latest project is a €250 million PPP, which will see six new higher education facilities built at university campuses across the country.

Also headquartered in Dublin, Macquarie Bank Europe undertakes the regulated banking activities and services that Macquarie provides to clients across the European Union.

“The hospital’s team of talented healthcare professionals and consultants have worked tirelessly over more than 17 years to make it the centre of clinical excellence and patient care that it is today,” said Hani Zogheib, a Senior Managing Director at Macquarie Asset Management.

“We look forward to working closely with the team at Beacon Hospital to continue to build on this legacy, supporting the long-term vision that Beacon Hospital has to further develop its technologically advanced facilities and specialist medical expertise to ensure that it remains a cornerstone of the healthcare infrastructure in Ireland.”

The divestment of the Beacon is the latest Irish business exit by Mr O’Brien, who in recent years has sold his stakes in Irish media companies Communicorp (now Bauer Media Audio) and Independent News and Media (now Mediahuis Ireland).

He still continues to hold interests in building services group Actavo and Ballynahinch Castle hotel in Co Galway.

He also recently stepped down as chairman of the Caribbean based telecoms group, Digicel, which he founded.

It followed a debt restructuring deal that saw him relinquish control of the business, although he continues to be a minority shareholder in the company.

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