City International Hospital launched in Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY: Hoa Lam Shangri-La International Healthcare LLC (HLSL), in which Ireka Corp Bhd has a 68% stake through its London-based associate Aseana Properties Ltd, launched the City International Hospital (CIH) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last month.

The 320-bed CIH is the first private general hospital of international standard in Vietnam. It is operated by Parkway Group, Asia’s largest private healthcare service provider based in Singapore and has a gross development value (GDV) of US$100 million (RM332.7 million).

According to Lai Voon Hon, president and chief executive officer of Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd, general director of HLSL and executive director of Ireka Corp, the outlook for the private medical industry in Vietnam is very promising.

“Like many developing countries, the rising middle class and affluence of people are creating demand for private healthcare services,” he said “With a population of over 90 million across Vietnam, and approximately eight million in Ho Chi Minh City alone, state hospitals are often overcrowded and have insufficient beds ... More Vietnamese are taking up private healthcare insurance which allows access to private hospitals and clinics. We are also looking to cater to the growing population of expatriates and returning overseas Vietnamese.”

CIH has two phases: Phase 1 comprises 168 beds and Phase 2 offers 152 beds. The hospital is built on 2.5ha, and Phase 1 began operations on Sept 24 last year. Phase 2 is expected to be rolled out over the next two years.

An HLSL spokesman said Vietnamese citizens and foreign expatriates can now seek high quality, international standard medical treatment and care without having to travel overseas. The hospital is staffed by some of Vietnam’s top doctors and taps into expertise from the vast network of private hospitals under the Parkway Group.

The hospital is the flagship development of the US$670 million (RM2.22 billion) Hoa Lam Shangri-La Healthcare Park (HLSL Park) which is still under construction and will be completed over five phases.

The HLSL Park is Vietnam’s first and only premier international healthcare development covering approximately 37ha and is located in the Binh Tan district adjacent to the populous Districts 5 and 6 of Ho Chi Minh City and is only 11km from District 1, the city’s central business district.

The HLSL Park consists of four components focusing on: (i) healthcare (hospital, laboratory, medical suites and research centre); (ii) support (residential apartments, serviced apartments, hotels, medical exhibition centre and shopping mall); (iii) education (nursing college, kindergarten and international schools); and (iv) community (clubhouse, recreation facilities and parks).

The next phase of development, which consists of mid-end residential apartments, will commence in late 2014 and is subject to a more sustained recovery of the property market in Ho Chi Minh City.

Lai said the designs for the residential apartments are being finalised and will be submitted for approval by the authorities within the next few months. The residential apartments will be built on 2.4ha of land. After the residential apartments, Lai said, the company will develop two specialist hospitals.

He said Ireka is confident of the long-term prospects in Vietnam.

“HLSL Park will keep us busy for the next five years at least,” he said. “Through Aseana, we also have an investment in Nam Leong Investment Corp, a top Vietnamese developer listed on the Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange. If the residential market continues to improve, we will look to develop Waterside Estate with Nam Long, consisting of 37 units of riverside villas in District 9 of the city.”

Asked when the Vietnam property market is expected to recover, Lai said there are already signs of recovery.

“Based on Savills’ latest report, the affordable housing segment has shown strong absorption last year,” he said. “Nam Long launched two affordable homes projects last year and both have achieved near sold out levels less than six months after the launch. In addition, there seems to be a big improvement in terms of take-up of Grade A and B offices. Occupancy rates have risen to 91% and 90% respectively according to Savills’ latest report,” he said.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 07, 2014.

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