China's Fosun joins bidding war for Portuguese hospital operator

Fosun Group logo in front of the company's headquarters building in Shanghai Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fosun is China's biggest privately-held conglomerate

China's biggest privately-held conglomerate Fosun has joined a bidding war for the Portuguese hospital operator Espirito Santo Saude (ESS).

Fosun is offering 451m euros (£355m; $580m) for the business, which is 51% owned by the Espirito Santo family.

The bid is higher than two rival offers from Portuguese healthcare firm Jose de Mello Saude and Mexico's Grupo Angeles.

It also marks the latest European target for Fosun, which has also been trying to buy resort chain Club Med.

The Chinese firm is run by billionaire Guo Guangchang, who has been likened to US investment legend Warren Buffett.

Fosun has spent billions since 2010 buying up foreign firms and says it is eyeing healthcare, tourism and fashion firms in the US and Europe.

It already owns a stable of Western brands ranging from the American clothing label St John's to Greek luxury jeweller Folli Follie.

In January, Fosun bought Portuguese insurer Caixa Seguros e Saude.

The Espirito Santo family has been looking to sell various parts of its business since applying for creditor protection in July.

ESS owns hospitals, clinics and elderly care homes across Portugal and the firm has become a target for investors betting on the growing need for facilities to cope with an aging population in Europe.

Shares of ESS have risen by more than 50% this year because of the takeover battle.

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