Serial pharma entrepreneur and Strides group founder Arun Kumar and homegrown private equity firm Ascent Capital, the two key investors in Mysore-based medical devices maker Skanray Technologies, are evaluating options to sell a controlling stake in the firm and unlock value, multiple industry sources with knowledge of the matter told Moneycontrol.
To be sure, the firm which was planning an IPO earlier, was at the epicenter of ventilator supply in India during the peak of COVID-19 and played a key role in the government’s war against the pandemic by ramping up production of ventilator machines in record time in collaboration with BEL ( Bharat Electronics Limited).
“Ascent Capital and entities associated with Arun Kumar including his venture capital and private equity fund Agnus have been invested for a while and are looking to clock healthy returns and are in exit mode. They have given a joint mandate recently to investment bank Rothschild and are open to exploring the sale of a combined stake of around 75-76 percent stake in Skanray Technologies,” said one of the persons cited above.
He added that the proposed deal is likely to be launched by Rothschild later in January and that a final call on the quantum of stake sold by both investors would depend on the level of interest from suitors.
A second person confirmed the stake sale plans of the two key investors. He told Moneycontrol that Skanray Technologies , which was founded by Vishwaprasad Alva ( also the managing director) with 5 engineers from GE had received strategic interest earlier while it was a mulling a debut on Dalal Street. Alva had returned to India in 2007 after serving at GE Healthcare, Bangalore and GE headquarters in Milwaukee, US.
In June 2021, Skanray filed draft papers for an IPO to fund its inorganic growth and fund working capital and capex requirements, but the listing plans were later shelved. The firm was looking to raise Rs 400 crore in fresh capital as well as a secondary share sale by the promoters and investors.
The second person also added that Skanray was a beneficiary of COVID-19 when demand was higher and subsequently orders saw a spike.
In the Economic Survey of 2022, India’s public expenditure on healthcare stood at 2.1 percent of GDP in 2021-22 against 1.8 percent in 2020-21 and 1.3 percent in 2019-20.
“Skanray is strong on the patent front and has a good product portfolio. The firm has pan-India distribution and also has a presence in Europe,” a third person elaborated on the factors that could attract bidders.
All three persons above spoke to Moneycontrol on the condition of anonymity.
Moneycontrol has sent email queries and text messages along with multiple reminders to Ascent Capital, Arun Kumar and Rothschild. This article will be updated once we hear from the parties.
In a detailed email response to Moneycontrol, Vishwaprasad Alva said, "Skanray is looking at raising 2500 Cr in fresh capital to acquire new technologies in diagnostic imaging , oncology , critical care, mother and child care and surgery. It's current PE investors who came in in 2009 and 2013 at early start up stage may also sell their stake to help bring in the growth funds to take the company to a billion dollars in top line by 2030. Skanray started commercial production in 2011-12 and in a short span grew to be the largest Indian med tech R&D , manufacturing and OEM company. Skanray is today in a unique position in the global med tech space . There are very few full range med tech companies and Skanray will leverage its vast R&D , manufacturing base across the globe. Strong in IP and core technology, all of Skanray's revenues come from its own products . Skanray doesn't trade with 3rd party products and is an OEM to several Global Med tech companies."
Alva further added, "There are several PE investors and investment bankers who have approached us. We have not yet signed a contract with anyone as on today. With Medtech looked up a sunrise sector across nations , Skanray's current product base and R&D strength has evoked strong interest in domestic and global consolidation of total med tech technologies and solutions. Our initial plan was to raise 400 Cr primary in the IPO. With that and another 200 Crores of debt leverage , we hoped that we would be able to do the investments into new products and the acquisitions lined up. In the current situation where our 48 CE marked and 34 FDA products in the Skanray range is seeing huge growth and larger international companies exiting this space due to their high overheads and competition from mid-size and smaller med tech firms, we took a decision to accelerate our product launch and acquisition plans earlier than originally planned."
In September 2013, Ascent Capital invested $15 million in Skanray Technologies, the PE fund’s first Indian investment in the medical products sector. The private equity firm which is led by founder and managing partner Raja Kumar has a diversified portfolio in India and also backs the likes of D2C cosmetics startup MyGlamm, online grocery delivery player Big Basket, insurance firm Acko, women’s hormones-focused pharma firm Naari and health and fitness company CureFit.
Arun Kumar, the Executive Chairperson and Managing Director of Strides Pharma Science Limited had provided financing support to Skanray when it acquired L&T’s non-core medical devices unit in a bold move which shook up the industry.
A CLOSER LOOK AT SKANRAY TECHNOLOGIES
According to its draft papers filed with the regulator in 2021, Skanray Technologies is one of the key Indian medical device players engaged in designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing of medical devices.
“We are a multi-product company offering a diversified portfolio of products, including patient monitoring systems, cardiology devices, respiratory management systems and radiology/ imaging systems, to hospitals, OEMs and for personal medical use/ retail sale globally. Our products are designed and developed in-house based on intellectual property that we own,” the papers say.
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Skanray Technologies Ltd was formed in 2007. Skanray Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. (SHPL) was formed in November 2012 to acquire L&T's medical equipment division. SHPL was merged with Skanray with effect from April 1, 2013.
According to a report by ICRA dated January 31, 2022, the firm has USFDA-approved manufacturing facilities in Mysore (two facilities) and Europe (three facilities). The company employs about 500 people and has over 100 dealers and 50 service franchises catering to 1,830 customers across 20 countries. The report added that the company’s FY2021 operating income rose to Rs 422.4 crore from Rs 145.6 crore a year ago while PAT surged to Rs 128.9 crore from -Rs 8.5 crore.
The 31st January ICRA report which gave a rating upgrade factored in improvement in Skanray’s financial risk profile aided by healthy revenue growth, significant expansion in profitability, debt metrics and liquidity position on the back of healthy demand scenario for the company's products. The rating also factored in the long-term growth potential of the company in the domestic medical equipment industry supported by a healthy demand outlook.
SKANRAY TECH ON THE PROWL
The firm has integrated new businesses and platforms that it acquired for fast-track time-to-market strategies in terms of product and market expansion. Its product-driven acquisitions include the acquisition of the medical equipment business of Larsen and Toubro Limited to grow the PMS and ESU product portfolio, which forms part of the critical care segment. The firm acquired Pricol Engineering Industries Limited’s medtech business in 2013 to gain access to its RMS product portfolio.
Its market-driven acquisitions include the acquisition of CEI-Italy (Compagnia Elettronica Italiana), an Italian X-ray tube manufacturer, to gain a presence in the European market and to vertically integrate the radiology product line for which X-ray tubes are a critical component. The acquisition of Cardia International A/S, manufacturer of AED, was similarly driven to gain access to a distribution network in Europe.