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Eye-care chain Dr Agarwal\'s raises debt funding from Britain’s CDC
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Dr Agarwal’s Health Care Ltd on Wednesday said it has raised Rs 215 crore ($30.3 million) in debt from British development finance institution (DFI) CDC Group Plc -- the transaction bumping up the number of fundraisings in India’s eye-care sector to six deals.

This comes just months after the company attracted 270 crore ($38 million) in equity funding from Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings earlier in February.   

Adil Agarwal, CEO, Dr Agarwal’s Health Care Ltd, said in a statement that the funds raised from CDC will be used for growth including the acquisition of small hospitals and chains.

The company is looking to boost its international presence particularly in Africa and South Asia. In India, the company aims to expand aggressively in Maharashtra, Kerala and central part, besides strengthening its presence in existing markets.

Agarwal added that part of the funds will also be used to invest in the latest technology such as SMILE, Femto Laser and Robotic Cataract Surgery.

Srini Nagarajan, managing director and head of Asia CDC Group, said the DFI's over 70 years of investing across Asia and Africa will help drive the firm’s expansion plans.

CDC has been actively investing in India's healthcare space. Its investments in the country include hospital chains Rainbow Hospitals and Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Veda Corporate Advisors advised Dr Agarwal's on the transaction.

The is not the first time Dr Agarwal's is resorting to alternative mode of funding. In 2017, the eye-care chain raised structured debt from Edelweiss Special Opportunities Fund for expansion.

In 2016, the company raised private equity money when it brought ADV Partners on board to let previous investor Evolvence India Life Sciences Fund exit, in what was primarily a secondary transaction.

Dr Agarwal's was founded by the late J Agarwal (recipient of the Padma Bhushan award) and his wife T Agarwal in Chennai in 1957. It currently has 91 hospitals with 77 centres across 12 states in India and 14 hospitals across 10 countries in Africa.

Deals in the segment

The year of 2019 has turned out to be hectic for the eye-care segment in terms of back-to-back private equity funding after a prolonged lull.

In September, UAE-based family investment office Foundation Holdings led a funding round in ASG Hospital Pvt. Ltd, the transaction bumping up the number of fundraisings in India’s eye-care sector to five deals. 

In June 2019, IIFL Asset Management Ltd acquired a majority stake in Infigo Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, which is promoted by Shridhar Thakur, former chief operating officer of eye-care chain Vasan Healthcare, and Anil Kamath, former managing director at Wockhardt Hospitals.

In the same month, Disha Medical Services Pvt. Ltd, an eye-care chain focused on affordable treatment in underserved markets under the brand Drishti, raised $4 million in its Series C round of funding.

In May, Mahindra Partners, the private equity arm of diversified Mahindra Group, invested Rs 206.5 crore (around $30 million) in New Delhi-based chain Centre for Sight. This deal paved the way for the full exit of venture capital firm Matrix Partners India.

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