Monday, May 10, 2010

Max India in talks with foreign varsities to set up medical college

Max India founder and chairman Analjit Singh is in talks with four foreign universities to set up a medical college in the country. Singh, an alumnus of Boston University, confirmed the development but declined to divulge details. “I am planning a serious education play and I am in talks with four international universities for a potential partnership but it’s too early to talk about it,” Singh told Business Standard. He added the proposal was still on the drawing board. However, sources in the company said Singh plans to set up a medical college in line with his strategy “to convert Max Healthcare into a place where world-class research and development and education can go hand in hand”. Boston University is among the four varsities he is talking to.

The education sector is no stranger to Singh. He is currently an executive board member of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, where he is facilitating the funding of a new campus at Mohali, Punjab, with an investment of Rs. 50 crore (Rs. 500 million). Apart from Singh, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice-chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises Limited; Sunil Kant Munjal, Managing Director and CEO of Hero Corporate Service and Atul Punj, Chairman, Punj Lloyd Group, have invested Rs. 50 crore each for ISB’s Mohali campus. Singh is also chairman of the board of governors of The Doon School, Dehradun, besides being a board member of the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi.

Last month, the government allowed private firms to set up medical colleges in the country. With this, healthcare chains such as Fortis Healthcare, Max Healthcare, and Apollo Hospitals are free to start their own medical colleges. Prior to this, only state-run bodies, universities and private, religious or charitable trusts were allowed to set up medical colleges. In 2008, a government notification had allowed private companies to set up not-for-profit medical colleges.

Management consulting firm McKinsey had suggested reorganisation of Singh’s business some years ago and it had identified four investment areas for him — insurance, healthcare, education and hospitality. While Singh runs Max New York Life Insurance Company, Max Bupa Health Insurance and Max Healthcare, education and hospitality is the next big sector he is looking at.

Medical education is much in demand. At present, 23,000 students graduate from 300 medical colleges each year. Most of them enroll for post-graduation courses while some leave to study abroad. With 15,600 post-graduate seats available in teaching institutions, 6,000 in non-teaching hospitals such as Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi and 400 in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and PGI, Chandigarh, there are few MBBS doctors left to join superspeciality hospitals, where they are needed for providing round-the-clock care.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines state that a person intending to set up a medical college has to provide two performance bank guarantees from a commercial bank valid for a period of five years. The first guarantee is to be made for a sum of Rs. 1 crore (Rs. 10 million) for 50 admissions, Rs. 1.5 crore for 100 admissions and Rs. 2 crore for 150 admissions. The second bank guarantee is for infrastructural facilities of the medical college and requires Rs. 3.5 crore for a 400-bed hospital, Rs. 5.5 crore for a 500-bed hospital and Rs. 7.5 crore for a 750-bed hospital.

Source: Business Standard, May 10, 2010 (Reported by Kalpana Pathak)

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